Your child will observe and describe how a shadow is created with a flashlight.
Learning Area(s): Language and Communication; Science
- Flashlight, mini flashlights, or lamp
- Blank wall or hanging sheet
- Your child’s favorite toys
First go to a dark room or turn off the lights so that you can explore how flashlights work with your child. Turn the flashlight on and off several times. Shine the light onto the wall or sheet, and talk about where the light is going as you take turns moving it across the walls and over the ceiling. For example, “Watch the light. See how it’s moving across the wall? Oh, look! I made the light jump to the ceiling! I can make it move really fast. Watch!”
Next, take turns placing your hands or other body parts in front of the flashlight so that a shadow is projected onto the wall or sheet. Explain to your child that a shadow is formed when something blocks the light. Experiment by making fun shapes with your hands to see what the shadow looks like. You could even see if you can create some shadow puppets. Ask your child to make more shadows using his favorite toys.
As your child investigates light and shadows, use words such as light, dark, shine, bright, dim, shake, high, low, look, flashlight, shadow, on, and off so that he relates these vocabulary words to what he is doing.
- For safety, make sure you and your child do not shine the flashlight purposefully into someone’s eyes.
- You can compare indoor shadows to outdoor shadows using the sun!
- You can expand upon this activity by talking about different sources of light (sunlight, light bulb), what powers the light (electricity vs. batteries), what we should do when we lose electricity in a storm, and/or safety rules associated with light, heat, or electricity (for example, do not touch outlets or stick anything in them because they can hurt or burn you).
- Try creating “shadow creatures” by using objects around the house to make more uniquely shaped shadows! Have your child pick a combination of objects to hold and wear (e.g., hats, tools, handheld kitchen utensils). Then have your child stand between the flashlight and the wall so that you can both see the outline of his shadow on the wall. For example, what would it look like if your child wore headphones, stuck a hammer through a belt loop on his pants, put a whisk in his pocket, held a large wooden spoon in one hand and an action figure in the other hand, and added a robot walk? Take turns turning the flashlight on to reveal your shadow creatures!