At mid-December the children’s morning shadows are recognizably long. Over time, through repeated observations made formally or just in casual comments, children begin to notice that the position of the sun in the sky changes during the day. Kindergartners may notice that the sun also changes position during the year, depending on how often they are able to be outside and have a conversation about the sun’s location.
When young children begin to explore shadow formation they don’t understand the relationship between the light source and shadows. It’s interesting to see them realize that they have to place their body in the light from a source to create a shadow. Understanding that their body blocks the light comes even later.
Challenge children to make a shadow “bigger” or “smaller,” and “longer” or “shorter,” as they play with a flashlight. By describing both a flashlight and the sun as “light sources” we help children make connections between the movement of a flashlight and the movement of the sun—movement that changes the shape and position of shadows.