Shadow Puppets

What are Shadows?

Light waves travel in straight lines called rays. These rays cannot curve around corners, or pass through solid objects. When light is blocked from a solid object, we see a dark shadow.
Watch this video to learn more

Photo by Parenting with Principal

What is Light?

Light is a type of energy that allows us to see. Light comes from different places called light sources. Light sources include the sun, stars, light-bulbs and torches.
Watch this video to learn more

Everyone and everything has a shadow.

You can only see shadows when there is light.

Questions to Discuss:

  • How did you make shadows?

  • Can you catch a shadow?

  • Can you hide your shadow?

  • Why do your shadows change size when you move your hands closer to or further from the light?

  • Are people the only things that have shadows?

  • Are shadows different colours?

  • Can you get away from your shadow?

  • Do shadows talk?

  • If there were no light, would there still be shadows?

  • Do fish make shadows in water?

  • Where do shadows go when the sun goes behind a cloud?

  • What makes shadows at night?

Further Learning Activities

  • Create your own show using your shadow puppet animals as characters.

  • Create paper shadow puppets – draw outlines of characters on cardboard, cut them out and sticky-tape them to skewers. Hold them in front of the light.

  • Here is a poem about shadows:
    Let’s play shadows, in the sun
    I can make my shadow run!

    I can make my shadow crouch down small,
    Or reach up, very, very, tall!

    I can make my shadow jump around,
    Or do patterns on the ground.

    My shadow is weary, see him creep,
    Slowly curl up, go to sleep

    • Act out the poem

    • Write your own shadow poem

  • Use the online game program Mental Up for some fun and challenging shadow matching games. Try ‘Find the Shadow’ or the more complex ‘King of the Shadows’

Books About Shadows and Light

What Makes a Shadow? By Clyde Robert Bulla This book explains how shadows are made, how your shadow can run, but you can’t catch it!
Whoo’s There? A Bedtime Shadow Book This is an interactive book. Use a torch to project through the transparent windows to cast silhouette pictures on the wall.
Nothing Sticks Like a Shadow by Anne Tompert Rabbit tries to shake off his shadow.
Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni Is the story of two colours - blue and yellow who are best of friends. They hug and suddenly they aren’t yellow and blue anymore.
The Foggy, Foggy Forest by Nick Sharratt Who’s lurking in the foggy forest? Look through the trees and find out.
Flashlight by Lizi Boyd What is going on outside? Is it dark? Is it scary? Not if you have your trusty flashlight! Told solely through images this book is an exploration of night, nature and art.
Hand Shadows and More Hand Shadows by Henry Bursill A book of hand shadows – explore some here.

More activities to try

Mirrors and Reflection Explore reflection and the magic of mirrors with these simple activities.
Try It
Flying Mirror Bird Draw a bird and send it on an adventure around your home.
Try It
Shadow Tableaux Create shadow tableaux in groups, capturing scenes and exploring relationships.
Try It