Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

STEAM at Home: Shadow and Light Activity

written by Sarah McDonagh

Today, we are sharing a fun, interactive STEAM activity that builds upon what children learned in last week’s STEM blog exploring light energy.

With this Shadow Drawing activity, kids will understand more about why and how shadows form. From our last post, students learned that light travels in a straight line and when that light cannot pass through an object placed in its path, a shadow is formed. With today’s activity, they will see how shifting an object’s position and changing how it interacts with the light source, can affect the shape of the shadow. If your budding scientists want to read more about light and other NextGen science topics, we recommend our STEM Explorations titles: How Light Travels and Light Energy.                                                                                                            

To begin this activity, gather the following items:

  • 1 to 3 of your child’s favorite things (hard plastic items work best – we've used a bottle of bubbles and stacking cups).  
  • Blank paper
  • Markers

1.  After gathering the necessary materials, you’re ready to go outside! Start by asking your child if they have any predictions for how their chosen objects will interact with the sun and what kind of shapes the shadows will have. For best results, choose a time where the sun is shining directly to do this activity. 

2.  Once outside, place the paper and objects on the ground or an outside table. As the shadows appear on the paper, encourage your child to move the objects around, and see how the shadows change. Every time your child shifts the object, the shadow changes, too, as the object is blocking the light path in a new manner. Parents can help encourage critical thinking by asking, “How does the shadow change when the object moves? Does the shadow ever appear larger than the item?”                                                                                               3.  After kids have experimented with changing the shape of the shadow, have them trace the shadow with a marker. Once they’ve completed the trace, follow-up on the predictions that they made at the beginning of the activity. Did their predictions prove right? If not, ask them why they believe their predictions turned out differently. If their predictions are correct, have kids explain why they think their predictions were right.   

4.  Now your child is ready to turn their shadow outlines into an artistic masterpiece! Have them use their shadow trace as a coloring sheet, adding details, and creating something fun!


Learning how light travels and how shadows form is a foundational science concept that begins a child's exploration of how two forces interact with each other.. This activity allows students to have fun with science while creating something that will enable them to engage their creative side!

Encourage your eager scientists to build greater science knowledge about light energy, how light travels, the sun, and other science topics with our STEM Explorations series (GRL H–K)! Each title is packed with fun facts, dynamic visuals, and nonfiction text features so young scientists can explore solo.