Sunshine and Shadows


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Bright winter days are the very best for exploring shadows!  The low sun means that shadows are large and obvious.  On bright winter days when my class was lining up they used to experiment with their shadows on the corridor wall, using their hands to make rabbits or monsters or making their bodies as large or small as they could.  In the summer their shadows were so low on the wall that they barely noticed them.

I remember one lesson that I did about shadows with a Y3 class.  My colleague stayed indoors and made shadow puppets.  I took my half of the class outside to explore our wonderful winter shadows.  First of all however we watched a useful John Lewis advertisment which really got the children talking about shadows, and keen to explore the ones that they could make themselves.


I have found this John Lewis clip to be a great start to an exploration of shadows.

We spent a long time exploring the shadows that we could make with our bodies.  They made monsters and angels individually.  Then they worked in pairs to make elephants and giraffes.  Next, as a group, they made a many legged dragon.  They also used PE equipment to embelish their shadows.  They used chalks to draw around their shadows and then tried to fit exactly into their own and to each others.  They talked about why they could never quite manage it.

After a while I suggested that we work closer to the school building.  The children’s explanation of why this wouldn’t work (as we would have been in the shade) showed me that they had a good understanding of how shadows are formed.  I had planned for them to annotate the photos that we took; however an embarrassing technological hiccup meant that there were no photographs!  Nevertheless, listening to the children explaining to their class mates and teacher what we had been doing showed that most of them understood what I wanted them to.

Year 1

  • observe changes across the fours seasons

Year 3 

  • recognise that shadows are formed when the light from a light source is blocked by an opaque object
  • find patterns in the way that the size of shadows change

Year 5

  • use the idea of the Earth’s rotation to explain day and night and the apparent movement of the sun across the sky


  • (Playing & Exploring) show curiostiy about objects
  • (Playing & Exploring) using senses to expore the world around them
  • (Mathematical 30-50 months) shows an interest in shapes in the envirnoment
  • (The World 30-50 months) talks about why things happen


Allotments and puddles 003

Yesterday I went for a walk to look at puddles.  In particular I was looking at the way light and images were reflected in them.  Sadly, I forgot to put the memory card in my camera when I went out in the rain so I didn’t get any pictures of rain drops falling into puddles.

Allotments and puddles 006.JPGHowever, I was enchanted by the way the wind ruffled the water and distorted the images.

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I love the juxtaposition of the squalid, grubby winter paths and the sublime images reflected in the puddles.

It was much harder to capture the clouds than the trees reflected in them.

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Some were too muddy to have any reflections at all.

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This one reminded me of Escher’s picture.


I love puddles!  They are a wonderful opportunity to combine science learning with poetry and art.  I would love to hear about your experiences of teaching with puddles.