shadow play

Kids Play with Anything #20: Child’s Play with Shadows

Adults forget how many of the things children play with aren’t toys. A child’s play with shadows is like having play built right in. It comes attached.

Little ones can be scared when they notice their shadows for the first time. Shadows seem to be chasing them and no matter how they move, the shadows follow. There are some very cute videos on YouTube showing young children and close encounters of the shadow kind.

Older kids soon figure out ways to play with shadows. They discover how their shadows can move, bend, stretch, shrink, and do other tricks just by moving their bodies in certain ways. Shadows move in ways bodies can’t, like folding up on a wall. Shadows can change size too. It’s fun to make a shadow as long as a giant or as small as a doll.

science and shadow playIt’s also fun to run around and chase shadows. Stepping on somebody else’s shadow head doesn’t hurt at all. Small shadows will completely disappear into larger ones. Shadows will dance, turn somersaults, jump, and freeze like statues depending on what bodies do.

play with shadowsBesides our own shadows, ordinary objects have shadows too. At night, the shadows from stuffies and toys loom large and scary. Using objects and the light from the sun kids can make strange shadows with ordinary things, such as a ball.

play with shadowsA hand and flashlight can make shadows that move. These are called shadow puppets. A bunny is just two fingers that wiggle like ears. Do you have a dark room or closet in your house? Let kids take a flashlight and create all kinds of shadows. Shadows might tell a story as kids pretend and imagine.

science fun with flashlightsSometimes, the best kind of toys are the ones we can’t buy. But play will still happen because kids will play with anything. Have you watched your child play with shadows?

Science and Shadow Play for Kids

science and shadow playFrom this day on, days in the Northern Hemisphere will be getting shorter, so take advantage of the light with some science shadow play for kids.


Usually lots of daylight means days are warm as well, so take the shadow play outside. Of course, there won’t be any shadows at noon, or what would be noon if your area is on daylight saving time. Yesterday afternoon, our shadows were so long we looked like giants! They stretched across the whole driveway.

science and shadow play

Playing with their own shadows is lots of fun. Kids discover they can make their shadows move, bend, stretch, shrink, and do other tricks by moving bodies in certain ways. When walking along the sidewalk, shadows will bend so it looks like bodies are bending.

science and shadow playEveryday objects will create all sorts of strange shapes, like this table and chairs. Does the shadow look like the object? What’s changed? These chairs and the round top of the table look like they are tipping.

Besides playing with their own shadows, kids can go for a walk just to see different shadows.

science and shadow playWe can even play games with shadows. Kids can take some toys outside and check out their shadows. We can cover our eyes and try to guess what something is just from its shadow. This ball doesn’t look so very round anymore. Without seeing the ball, it would be hard to figure out that’s what it is.

To extend play, we can give kids some chalk and have them draw the around the edge of the shadow of an object. After awhile they can check what they have drawn and check the changes.

Sometimes, parents and caregivers are quite intimidated when they think about doing science with kids. But so many of children’s activities are discovery, exploration, and experimentation. Their play is very scientific. Although shadows seem quite magical, kids are learning basic science when they watch and play. For a play-of-the-day, how about some shadow play for kids?

The blog always has more ways to play.

Science Fun with Flashlights for Kids

Science can happen in unexpected places and times, like the closet before supper. With a new birthday gift, the kids had science fun with flashlights.

science fun with flashlightsLittle Sister got not just one, but two flashlights for her birthday, just in time for summer camping. Great minds must have been in tune thinking about what a preschooler could use that was both playful and practical. A couple of days later, while playing with the new gifts, the kids needed a room that was dark. Since it was still daylight, the only dark place was the closet. So that’s where they played.

science fun with flashlightsFirst, they had fun just shining the flashlights around. It made the clothes seem almost alive when they appeared out of the dark. They shone the flashlights on the wall and made various shadow puppets with hands, feet, or other body parts. Little Sister liked to wiggle her fingers and see how the shadows would move.

science fun with flashlightsBig Sister noticed that hands appeared much, much bigger when she shone the flashlight on the ceiling. We talked about why that could be. Little Sister wasn’t interested in figuring that out, but was quite impressed that her hand could be “big like a monster.”

science fun with flashlightsThey also figured out that two flashlights made two circles so they moved their flashlights to try and ‘get’ the other person’s circle. This was a fun game, and even though the space was small, they managed to be fairly physical. There was a fair amount of giggling and squealing too.

It was impossible to take a photo of these circles dancing around all over in the closet, plus it was pretty crowded with me in there trying to take a picture. I gave up on that part.  Even with the door opened the picture is very blurry!

When the party balloons finally deflate, we might try stretching them over the top of the flashlights to see if we can make colored lights. Guess we’ll need to go back in the closet. Can your child have some science fun with flashlights?

For fun everyday, come over for the play-of-the-day!