Shadow Play – 10 Ideas

29 January 2013 · 3 comments

in 10 Outdoor Ideas Series, Nature Play & Learning, Outdoor Play, Science Outdoors

One of the best things about winter are the bright, cold, cloudless days. They are perfect for investigating shadows as the low sun provides long shadows. Also most of the activities involve moving around so keeping warm is less of an issue.

The suggestions in this post are light touch activities which supplement the “hardcore” science around what is a shadow, how they are created, etc. A good springboard into investigations usually begins with children noticing their own shadow. Brainstorm questions and ideas from this sort of starting point.


What Shadow Where?

Send children on a mission to find the most interesting shadow in the playground. Use this as a basis for thinking about shadows…

  • What makes a shadow interesting?
  • Which shadow do they feel most connected to?
  • What is a shadow and what do shadows tell us?
  • How does this link to day and night?

Shadow Boxing

No touch fighting! Your shadows do all the work. Add in stage effects such as reeling with a punch or faking a knockout. It’s all about the performance! Hold a competition to see who is the best shadow boxer. Come to a consensus about scoring, rules, etc. Don’t forget the entrance to the “ring” with motivational music and an entourage of trainers, supporters, etc.

Shadow Jumpers

Stand behind a friend so that your shadow covers his. Stick a leg out. Your friend has to jump on that part of your shadow. If you stick your arm out and wiggle it your friend has to run and jump on it. Take turns and see who can react most quickly to each other’s gestures.

Scare your Shadow

On a sunny day try and run away from your shadow. Is this possible? How can you make your shadow shrink to the smallest size possible or disappear altogether without hiding behind anything?

A Shadowy Alphabet

Try and make the different letters of the alphabet with your shadow. You may need another person to help you. What is the longest word you can spell which another person can work out? (Clue: smiles – it has a mile in the middle of it!)

Shadow Tag

This is just like the real game except you have to make your shadow tag another person’s shadow so it’s a little more challenging.

Shadow Puppets

Find a stick. Add some other materials and turn it into a character for a shadow puppet show on the ground. Remember to include something gobbling up something else!

Synchronised Shadows

Stand where you and a friend can see your shadows with your backs to the sun. Do an action slowly such as raise your right arm. Your friend copies your action. Take it in turns to do different moves and try only to look at the shadows when you do this. Bring in more friends for synchronized shadow dancing as you get better.

A Shadow Walk

Jump on every static shadow that you pass. A static shadow is one that does not move. Practice your landing pose.

A shadow stick

These can be used in different ways. Challenge children to experiment and find out how they can use a shadow made by a stick to tell the time. There is a lovely post on Outside Mom blog which explains how to work out compass directions using a shadow stick.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea February 11, 2016 at 19:50

Such a timely post! The girls and I have been playing with shadows quite a bit on our way to and from school the past few days. At one point, my shadow acted as the airplane and they rode inside of it!

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Juliet@CreativeSTAR February 11, 2016 at 20:06

What a brilliant idea! I like the idea of aeroplane shadows. Very neat.

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