Playing with shadows

This is a Your Wild Child-esque post–the type of activity I used to post on my old website. My goal there was to inspire kids to connect with nature, which is my goal always.

This time of year shadows are starting to get longer as the sun stays lower in the sky. We decided to take advantage of this by getting out and playing with our shadows.

1. Tracing shadows
We started by tracing each other’s shadows on the driveway. It wasn’t easy standing still while being traced, but we had fun seeing ourselves in outline and comparing our sizes.

I seem to be missing an arm…

This naturally led to tracing other things. I held up a watering can, a tractor (I’m incredibly strong) and a shovel for the boys to trace.

2. Shadow tag
We run around trying to step on each other’s shadows without letting anyone step on our own shadow. This also makes a great trail game when you want to motivate people to move forward.

3. Make a shadow compass
I used to do this when I taught environmental education and was recently reminded of this activity by Outside Mom.

Start by putting a stick in the ground. You want it to be tallish. I didn’t plant one of our garden beds because I thought we’d be moving. The house didn’t sell this summer, but I now have the perfect place to make a shadow compass.

Mark the end of the shadow line.

Getting the compass started. The yellow shovel marks the end of the shadow line.

Go play shadow tag, eat lunch or clip your dog’s toenails. When you come back (a half an hour is good, longer is better) mark the end of the new shadow line.

Draw a line between your two markers. This is the east-west line, with the first marker being west. Draw a line perpendicular to that line for the north-south line. I suppose you need to reverse this if you are in the southern hemisphere.

A few hours later, the red shovel marks the end of the new shadow line. A line in the dirt connecting the two shovels is the east-west line.

4. How do shadows affect living things?
Pick two plots of land–one that is in the sun most of the day and one that is shaded most of the day. Sow the same three types of seeds in each plot. Chart when the seeds first sprout and measure their height and robustness throughout the growing season. Then discuss your findings.

There isn’t enough time to grow much from seed here, so we will try this next spring.

What other ways do you use shadows to learn and play?

2 thoughts on “Playing with shadows

  1. Just Vegas

    Hey Mel, I was going through all my old bookmarks and pinning what is still relevant. Just thought I’d mention that I pinned this. What a fun, educational activity!

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