EC STEM Lab - Jan/Feb 2021, Newsletter, #18

This Saturday!

Free Workshop

Light & Shadows in Preschool
Virtual Workshop #2 in 2020-2021 Preschool STEM Workshop Series

Saturday, Jan. 23rd, 9-10am Eastern

Topic: Light and shadow in preschool, including the what and why, virtual learning considerations, and activity ideas.

Registration Required

Check our website or follow us on Facebook for more information. Approved for professional development hours in TN by DHS.


There will be a drawing for FREE STUFF for those who attend!

Check it Out

Exploring Light in 1st Grade


Just Published!

How can we get the light from this flashlight to the target, using at least 3 different objects? Read about how 1st graders tackled this engineering challenge in our article published in the Jan/Feb 2021 edition of NSTA's Science & Children.



Download this PDF and others for FREE from our Resources page.

Activity Ideas

Try It Out!

Trace a Shadow

Tracing shadows helps children begin to observe certain characteristics of shadows. They can start to observe how light blocks some things while it goes through other objects. Below are some ideas for ways to set up the activity and questions you could ask. Note they are only suggestions. See what your kids do and say to link to their interests.

Set up

  • If doing this outside, take some chalk and find a sunny spot on some pavement.
  • If you are indoors, gather paper, writing utensils, a light source, and objects such as blocks or cars if you aren't tracing body parts.

  • Have children find a spot where they can see a shadow, notice the changes that occur when they change positions or angles.
  • Help the children decide what to trace. 
  • Ask: Where is the shadow? What happens if you face this direction? 
Tracing Your Shadow - Outdoors
  • Invite the children to trace their shadow using chalk.
  • Show them how to trace by locating your hand's shadow and tracing it. 
  • As the children to trace their own shadow using the chalk or work with a partner to outline their body. 
  • Ask: What can a shadow tell us about a person? What can't it tell us?
  • Ask: Why do shadows show some things and not others?
  • If children are interested, trace other objects.
  • Support tracing activities as needed.

Tracing a Shadow - Indoors

Encourage the children to trace a shadow on a piece of paper. They may choose to build a structure with blocks or to trace an object such as a car or plastic animal. Describe the shadow. 
  • Possible questions to ask
    • How can you make the shadow larger? Smaller?
  • Allow the children to explore making different shapes to trace.
  • Help children connect the materials they are using, their properties, and the shadows they are seeing.
    • Ask: What can you tell about the object from its shadow?

Continue the Experience
  • Consider extending learning to a different time of day. Outdoors, encourage children to stand where they had traced their shadow. Help them notice the changes that have occurred to their shadow and why that may have happened. Indoors, leave the paper in the same spot and return at a different time. What has changed? What has caused this change?
  • What else can we explore with shadows? Shapes? Letters?




Books and More


Books for Kids

Light and shadow books for kids.

The Black Rabbitby Philippa Leathers
Rabbit is being chased everywhere he goes by a large black rabbit! Follow him as he tries to lose his nemesis. 

My Shadow, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Learn about shadows and all the fun things you can do with them. 

Blackout, by John Rocco 
Follow Violet as she pursues her passion in engineering in aviation, while coping with the social and emotional challenges of other children being mean to her because she's different, and how she responds.

On the Web

  • Video: Small group on shadows with preschoolers, from the Teacher's Toolkit, by PNC. Check out link between light and shadows and children's inquiry in the video entitled, "Inquiry Learning Part 2: Using Science Inquiry Learning in Your Classroom."

Image from PNC Grow Up Great



Want to Learn More?

Are you a master teacher, teacher coach, director, or someone else who supports preschool teachers?

Check out our Preschool STEM Institute coming summer 2021*


*May be held virtually

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