Not all science needs to be complicated! On the next sunny day, grab some chalk and take your child outside for this fun science lesson. She'll practice key science skills like measurement, comparison, and journal-keeping as she records the length of her shadow at different times throughout the day.
What You Do:
- Pick a morning when the sun is shining brightly. Before you head outside, sit down with your child and show her how to make a table so she can record her findings. Help her write three different columns: Time of Day, Shadow Length, and Body Length.
- Make sure she records the time of day in her table, then head outside.
- Now, have her stand still while you trace her shadow on concrete with chalk, and help her label the tracing with "Shadow" and the time of day.
- Next, have her lie down on the sidewalk while you trace the outline of her body. She can label this tracing with "Body" and the time of day.
- Encourage her to use the tape measure to find the length each tracing, then record the measurements in her chart. Which one is longer? Explain to her that the length of the shadow depends on the location of the sun. The higher the sun is in the sky, the smaller her shadow will be.
- Repeat this process a few times throughout the day. Each time, have her record the time, then compare the differences in length. Did the length of the shadow change? What about the length of her body? At what times was her shadow the shortest and the longest? Discussions like this help her build important critical thinking skills.
Did you know that the length of your shadow also changes with the seasons? Check out this activity for more shadow science fun.
Beth Levin has an M.A. in Curriculum and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has written educational activities for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Renaissance Learning publishers. She has a substitute teaching credential for grades K-12 in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.