Exploring Shadows

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This activity guide features three related explorations to help learners ages 3-6 investigate shadows via the following science concepts: A shadow is made when an object blocks the light; you can change the size of a shadow by moving an object closer to or farther from the light; and, you can change the shape of a shadow by turning the object. Exploring Shadows is one unit in the Peep Event Kit, which also offers explorations of Structures and ramps, respectively. The guide provides an agenda for a 1-hour science event, a customizable flyer, family handout (English and Spanish) and activity handout (English and Spanish). Learners can view a related Peep and the Big Wide World video story before or after the activity.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 6

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • slide projector (with blank slide) or overhead projector positioned to cast light on a wall
  • shoebox
  • wax paper or white paper
  • tape
  • flashlights
  • small objects: stapler, comb, toy animal, etc.
  • paper and scissors or Peep Shadow Puppets template (see page 8 of PDF)
  • craft sticks or drinking straws
  • a gooseneck or clip-on lamp, or an overhead or slide projector (with a blank slide) positioned to cast light on a wall


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Reflection and Refraction
      • Sunlight and Color
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Performing Arts
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Eductional Outreach Department, WGBH Educational Foundation

Source Collection

  • PEEP and the Big Wide World


  • All rights reserved, WGBH, 2007

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 0104700