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Shadow Pictures


Do you remember when Peter Pan asks Wendy to sew his shadow back onto his feet? Well, shadows aren't really attached to feet, of course, but they sure do seem to stick to you on a sunny day!


  • large sheets of newsprint or poster board
  • markers or crayons
  • leaves


Nancy F. Castaldo is the author of many books packed with inspiring ideas for childhood discovery and learning. In addition to the three titles above, Nancy has written activity guides for teaching children ages 6 to 9 about the ocean, rainforests, deserts, and rivers. All of these titles are published by Chicago Review Press.

Click here to learn about these books and others by Nancy Castaldo.

Place the paper on the ground in direct sunlight.

Arrange students into pairs. Have each partner hold a leaf so its shadow falls on the paper.

Trace the leaf's shadow with a marker or crayon. Then, lay the leaf down next to the drawing. Is the leaf larger or smaller than the shadow picture?

Leave the paper in the same place. Hold up the leaf and draw the picture again later in the day. In the second picture, does the shadow get larger, does it get smaller, or does it stay the same size?


Involve students in some of these extension activities:

Do a shadow dance. Put on some music that might suit your students' feelings -- slow and graceful like a tree bending in the wind or jazzy and fast like a squirrel hiding its nuts. Now dance with your shadow to the beat! Does your shadow do exactly the same thing that you do?

Ask students if they ever feel lonely. Most of us do. You might ask each student to grab a favorite picture book and take them to sit in the sun and read. Students won't be all alone They'll be reading the book with their shadow!


This activity is excerpted from Nancy Castaldo's Sunny Days and Starry Nights, which is published by Chicago Review Press. The activity is one of more than 65 activities from Sunny Days and Starry Nights that are sure to inspire children as they discover and learn.

About the Author

A native of New York's Hudson Valley, Nancy Castaldo earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Marymount College and a Master of Arts from the State University of New York. As an environmental educator, author, and Girl Scout volunteer and board member, Castaldo has led numerous children's workshops. Her school programs include workshops on ocean creatures and other nature topics, creative writing, and pizza making/Italy. She has conducted programs at the Boston Children's Museum, Atlanta Zoo, and Tennessee Aquarium. Castaldo's books include River Wild: An Activity Guide to North American Rivers; Oceans: An Activity Guide for Ages 6-9; Deserts: An Activity Guide for Ages 6-9; and Rainforests: An Activity Guide for Ages 6-9. She is also author of a historical-fiction picture book, Pizza for the Queen. To learn more about Nancy and her books, check out her Web site, www.nancycastaldo.com.

Article by Nancy Castaldo
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