Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Shadow Puppets + Science = Love

Danielle Holtz

One of the major components of each of our methods courses is writing a lesson plan for the content area we’re studying. I have to admit that I was feeling a bit nervous about crafting a science lesson plan. I’ve been digging on science as a content area quite a bit, but I definitely felt like this subject was more of a challenge for me. It felt especially scary, because it seemed to fall outside my comfort zone. I decided to take an arts bent and use my shadow puppetry past to craft an awesome science/arts integrated lesson. And guys? I like it so much, I’m going to share it with y’all. P.S. all of the photos are from a shadow puppet course I taught last summer.

Overarching Understandings:

  1. Students will understand that a shadow is made when an object blocks the light.
  2. Students will understand that they can change the size of a shadow by moving an object closer to or farther away from the light source.
  3. Students will understand that they can use different sized objects of the same shape and make their shadow appear to be the same size.

Essential Question(s):

  1. How are shadows formed?
  2. What can we learn about the shape and size of objects from their shadows?
  3. What different ways can shadows be manipulated?

Students will know (knowledge): Through a whole class read-aloud and discussion, students will know that shadows are made when an object blocks the light. Through small group investigations, students will know that they can change the size of a shadow by moving an object closer to or farther from the light. Through small group experimentation, students will know that they can manipulate different sized objects of the same shape to make their shadow appear to be the same size.

Students will be able to: In small groups, students will be able to manipulate two different objects of different sizes to make their shadows double in size and shrink in half. In small groups, students will be able to manipulate two different sized objects so that their shadows match in height.

Set/Hook: The teacher will ask students to take out their flashlights and move to their routine “dance space” in the classroom. The teacher will turn off the light and ask the students to turn their flashlight on. The teacher will explain that the students should experiment with casting shadows on the floor, walls, and ceiling while dancing to the song, “Why Do I Have a Shadow?” by Dorothy Collins. The teacher will ask the students to listen closely to the lyrics of the song as they cast their shadows.

Teacher Input: The teacher will direct the students to move to their routine space on the reading rug. The teacher will take out the book, “What Makes a Shadow?” by Clyde Robert Bulla. The teacher will ask the students to predict what the book will be about. The teacher will ask, “Does anyone know how a shadow is made?” The teacher will read through “What Makes a Shadow?” stopping for any student questions. The teacher and students will create a full group KWL on the board demonstrating what they know about shadows.

The teacher will say that today we are going to investigate how we can change the size of
a shadow by moving an object closer or further away from our light source. The teacher will ask the students to take out their science journals and to predict what they think will make an object’s shadow grow or shrink.

The teacher will ask the students to join their assigned small groups. One person from each small group would have an assigned role and will be tasked with collecting a different supply and passing it out to each group. Each small group will receive a flashlight, a measuring tape, cardboard cutout objects of varying sizes but similar shapes (ie. a big fox and a small fox, a big rabbit and a small rabbit, a big house and a small house) and a tall piece of cardboard marked across with grid lines and large, easy-to-read numbers.

The teacher will use language cards to focus the lesson with the following questions:

-How can each animal appear inside the doorway of the small house?
-How can the smallest fox be twice as tall as the tallest house?
-How can the smallest rabbit be the same height as the tallest rabbit?

The teacher will then ask the students to investigate making objects shrink in half and double in size. The teacher will rotate the room, using the following to focus investigations:

How can you manipulate the shadow of the house to make it double in size? How about to
shrink it in half? Try the same thing with one of the animals. Be sure to mark with tape where the house was placed to make it 4″ tall, along with where you placed it to shrink it and double it.

The teacher will ask the students to record their findings in their journal by writing and creating diagrams. After the teacher has noted that all of the students have completed writing about their findings, the teacher will ask for students to share responses. The teacher will then select a student to visually and physically scaffold the concept of growing and shrinking shadows by moving closer to and farther from a light source.

The teacher will ask the full group to help edit the KWL we completed at the beginning of class. The students will help edit the KWL by making suggestions to the teacher about what we now know, want to know, and will learn. The teacher will use a different colored pen and add an arrow if something they wanted to know is now known.

The teacher will ask students to think about how shadows matter in their lives. The teacher will ask the students to brainstorm a list of how light changes throughout the day and what it might affect in our daily lives.

Shadow Puppets + Science = Love

One of the major components of each of our methods courses is writing a lesson plan for the content area we’re studying. I have to admit that I was feeling …

Elementary Education MAT Danielle Holtz, danielle.holtz@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

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