Shoe Box Shadow Theater

americana science jan 2010 031

Children are fascinated by shadows. From playing in the sunlight chasing their shadows to quiet moments waving their hands over the tops of flashlights, shadows spark curiosity in children and can seem almost magical as the shadows change shape, grow in size or “disappear” when you walk under a bigger shadow. There are numerous ways to encourage light and shadow play. Hang a sheet in front of a window and make shadows with your whole body.  Cut figures out of thick paper and make a shadow puppet play. Turn off all the lights and use flashlights to go on a scavenger hunt. Play shadow tag on the playground. Trace shadows on the sidewalk at different times of the day and see how your shadow changes. Put your shadow with a friend’s and make a three legged, two headed shadow monster! Below you will find directions for one of my favorite shadow activities, a Shoe Box Shadow Theater.

 What you need:

  • Shoe Box
  • Tape
  • Parchment Paper or Plain White Paper
  • Small Objects
  • Block
  • Flashlight  (Clip lights in photo purchased at the Dollar Tree)

What you do:

  1. Cut the bottom out of a shoe box leaving a small edge.
  2. Place paper over the opening and tape it down around the perimeter.
  3. Place a small block in the middle to be the stage and aim a flashlight at the top of the block.
  4. Play a guessing game with a friend. Chose a small object to put on the block and have a friend try to guess what the object is by looking at its shadow on the other side.
  5. Try small plastic animals, letters, numbers, or shapes. Use your theater to tell a story or a nursery rhyme. Cut your own shapes and characters out of thick paper. Experiment with the placement of the object. How does the shadow change? Can you make it bigger? Can you make it smaller? What else can you make the shadow do?