Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Open Exploration: Light and Shadows

Your Turn!

žMake shadows! Use all different objects that you can find. Use different light sources too.

Think about:

  • How you can change your shadows?
  • How can shadows move?
  • What different types of shadows can you make?

Draw what you see.

Reflect:
What questions about light and shadows do you still have? How was the documentation process helpful?

 

Beginning Open Exploration in Your Classroom

Now that you have had a chance to explore the materials, it is time to introduce Light and Shadows to your students.

Week 1: Observing everyday shadows and light.

  • Introduce light and shadows during circle time. What do students know about light and shadows? Ask them to list different things that make light and write them on a chart.
  • Show the students images of all different kinds of light sources.
  • For a literacy connection, read Frank Asch's Moonbear's Shadow or another book with shadows. 
  • Go on a neighbhorhood walk or a walk around your school. Where do the students see shadows or light? See if the students can find their own shadows. What if it were a cloudy or rainy day, would they see shadows? Why or why not? 

žWeek 2: Focused observing of shadows

  • Take students outside and observe shadows over the course of the day, then discuss as a class.
  • Let students explore indoor shadows with flashlights and paper, then discuss as a class.
  • Create one or two centers with materials slowly introduced. Table top shadow box, shadow and light wall, or a fort are great center ideas. 

ž

These students explore shadows outside. 

 

Sample Conversation between Teacher and Student

Teacher: "What happened to your shadow when your hopped?"

Student: "It hopped in front of me."

Teacher: "Where is your face?"

Student: "I can't see it."

Teacher: "Why?"

Student: "Shadows don't have a face. My shadow is me."

At this point, students will mainly explore how shadows are created, and what determines the shape of a shadow.

žExploring translucency and changing shadow size will take place more fully during Focused Exploration.