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Step outdoors or near a window and explore the mysteries of light and shadows. Your child can learn a lot—like how to make shadows bigger and smaller and how shadows move. Enjoy the fun of observing shadows and how they change as you move about.
- Notice the shadows of the things around you our outside your window—cars, a dog or cat, a bird flying from tree to tree, the legs of a chair near a window.
- Observe the way your shadows "walk” along with you, and play with the shadows!
- Make different types of shadows by moving your arms or legs or jumping about.
- If outdoors, use chalk to outline your shadow and your child’s shadow. Or indoors trace the shadow of your hand on a piece of paper. Come back later in the day to check on your shadows. In what ways are they the same or different?
- Measure the lengths of your shadows using pieces of yarn or string or with a tape measure. Measure the shadows of other objects too, like a parked car, trees, the mailbox, a table or chair or anything else that casts a shadow. Ask questions or make comments that help your child think:
- I wonder what will happen to your shadow if you step forward or back?
- What might happen if we stand close together?
- Where is the sun in the sky right now? (Ask this at several times of the day.)
- What happens to shadows on a cloudy day?
- Explore, observe, and enjoy doing and learning about science together!
Source: Adapted from the Message in a Backpack for W.C. Ritz, 2011/2012, "Me and My Shadows," Teaching Young Children 5 (2): 22–25.