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Explore and Play: Shadow Detectives

Track down indoor shadows.


  • flashlights, one per pair of children (or one per child, if you have enough to go around)

Key Science Concepts

  • A shadow is created by an object blocking the light. 
  • You can make shadows with your body and other objects.                 


Tell children that they are going to play shadow detectives. Like a detective, they will use a flashlight to discover things.

  1. Sit children in a circle and ask if any of them have ever used a flashlight. When? What can it help you to do? Point out the different parts of a flashlight: the lens, the bulb (inside), and the on/off switch.
  2. Dim the lights and tell children that when you turn on your flashlight, they should find the shadow it makes. Have children join you in counting down, “3, 2, 1, flashlight!” and shine your flashlight on an object in the room.
  3. Have children describe what they see. Ask,
    • Where do you see a shadow? What does it look like?
    • What object is making this shadow? How do you know?
    • Where is the light making the shadow coming from? How does the flashlight help make this shadow?

Tell children that they’ll have lots of opportunities to play with flashlights this week during learning center time.