Shadow art projects

Updated April 17, 2017

Shadow art projects are a fun way for children to learn about the interactions of light with objects, as well as a simple introduction into arts and crafts. Shadow art projects have the advantage of simplicity: many variations of shadow art are possible that require little more than a flashlight, pencils and paper, and a little imagination.

Shadow Pictures

This project works well with a large group of children. Tape a sheet of white paper to the wall, then place a flashlight on a table or other object so that it shines steadily at the paper. Turn off the lights and have one student stand between the flashlight and the paper. Have another student trace the first student's silhouette on the paper. Cut out the silhouette, trace around it on a sheet of black construction paper, then cut out the second tracing. Have each student create a silhouette of themselves, then paste them all to a posterboard or another display space with the names of each student written next to his or her silhouette. Alternatively, have the children colour the white cutouts and paste these to your display space.

Hand Shadows

Tape a large sheet of paper to a wall and place a flashlight on a stable surface so that it shines on the paper. Have the students take turns holding their hands in front of the light so they create shadows on the paper, then trace around these shadows. Once all of the students have traced their hands, have them colour them in. You may need to use multiple sheets of paper, depending upon the size of your class and the size of shadows they decide to make.

Object Shadows

Have each student bring in an object from home or provide a selection of objects from which the students can choose. Give each student a small flashlight and a piece of paper. Have them place their objects in front of the flashlight so it casts a shadow on the paper, experimenting with the shadows cast by the object. Have your students trace around these shadows. Then they can colour them in and add details as they wish.

Shadow Puppets

Tape a section of posterboard to the wall, then place a flashlight on a steady surface so that it shines on the posterboard. Have each of your students hold an item in front of the light so that it casts a shadow on the posterboard. Trace around these shadows, then cut them out. The students should glue a Popsicle stick to the back of their section of posterboard. Then have your students interact with one another, acting out scenes with their puppets held in front of the flashlight.

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About the Author

Jon Zamboni began writing professionally in 2010. He has previously written for The Spiritual Herald, an urban health care and religious issues newspaper based in New York City, and online music magazine eBurban. Zamboni has a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from Wesleyan University.