Activity Plan 5-6: Measuring Shadows
Children take pleasure in learning to measure!
- Grades: PreK–K
Gather in Advance:
Show students how to use a ruler and let them practice measuring with it for a short time.
- Craft sticks-at least three for each child
- Shadow measuring sheet-this is a sheet where children will record their findings each time they go outside to measure their shadows: "My shadow is ___ at 9:00 a.m.," "My shadow is __ at 1:00 p.m.," and so on
- Math vocabulary words
On a bright and sunny day, take your class outside to measure shadows. What do they think their shadows will look like? Will they be big or small, tall or thin? Explain to children that they are going to become shadow experts by measuring their shadows at three different times during the day. Invite children to predict what will happen with the shadows.
Model how to stand with your back to the sun. Invite a student to place a craft stick on the ground at the top of your shadow and another where you are standing. Then model how to measure your shadow with a ruler. Invite pairs of children to line up and measure each other's shadows.
Go outside and record measurements several times during the day. How many rulers long is your shadow now? Did the shadow grow taller or shorter? Why do shadows change?
Hold a discussion with children at the end of the day. When were their shadows the longest? Why were the shadows long and thin in the morning? When were they the shortest? Why?
Remember: Model using a ruler and let children practice before they begin the activity. If this standard measurement tool is too advanced for your children, use a nonstandard unit of measure such as their feet or long unit blocks which they can lay down in the shadow and then count.
Shadows are everywhere and come in all shapes and sizes. They can be plain and simple or very complex. Head out on a shadow hunt around the neighborhood. Look at all the beautiful shadows made from things children see every day. Challenge them to look for the tallest, skinniest, fattest, or biggest shadow they can find.