Today was an on-and-off sunny day, but in those brief moments of sunshine we squeezed in a quick little chalk drawing project that’s a great way to help children look at things from a new perspective, which is a key ingredient in creative thinking.

drawing shadows

I talked to N about a plan to draw our shadows earlier in the day, and lamented that it was too cloudy to try it out. When she spotted a break in the weather she was excited to head out and unpack the shadow drawing mystery. And her butterfly wings and bike, which were all her doing, were dynamic props for the activity.

What you need

  • Sidewalk Chalk
  • A sunny Day with a low sun. 2-3 hours before or after noon would probably be a good time to try this out.

drawing shadows

We found a good spot with relatively smooth asphalt, and I asked N to choose a color for the drawing. What is it with this child and pink?! She watched closely as I traced around her shadow, and made every effort to hold her bike steady while I captured her image. It reminded me of those wonderful old daguerreotypes, or photos, of people who sat for their portraits for 15-25 seconds! I invited N to try her hand at tracing, but she wasn’t at all interested. I think it was a bit too challenging for her (she’s 34 months). Plus, she was busy being butterfly girl on a bike.

Other Ideas

  • Take turns drawing shadows and being traced.
  • Invite your child to dream up props as shadow enhancements (akin to N’s wings and bike).
  • Draw shadows of inanimate objects: chairs, toys, tables, etc.
  • Distort reality by tracing part of a shadow literally, and other parts abstractly.

What else could you do with Shadow Drawings?

This post was shared with Childhood 101


    • I remember this post, Amy! Now why didn’t I make the connection when I posted this? I’m so glad you added the link — it’s brilliant.

  1. One sunny day I took my daughter outside and asked her to stand in the same place each time to have her shadow traced. By the end of the day was had an arc of shadows, in different sizes, so we got to talk about the sun’s movement through the day. It was pretty cool looking, actually. She liked the project enough that we did it again another day. Actually, we may have to revisit that this year, doing it at several times of year to we can talk about the sun and earth’s positions changing in relation to each other through the seasons. Thanks for inspiring me to even think of that!

    • I love this idea! N didn’t have the patience for more than one tracing, but when she’s a little older we’ll definitely borrow this one. So, the inspiration is mutual 🙂

  2. What a super simple learning experience. And isn’t that what it’s all about?!?!? P.S. I love mumsyjr’s idea too!

    • As involved as some of our activities get, I’m all about keeping it simple at heart. The clean-up can be so overwhelming!!

  3. Rachelle,
    Thank you for this good art idea.
    I think your daughter chose such a perfect prop!
    This is such a great way to enhance children’s natural love of shadows.

    • I like the prop, too! Thanks for the nice comment, Brenda.

  4. Ugh! How annoying that this post had been hacked! Otherwise great material.

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