Self-Awareness through Light and Shadow Play

This week we began our exploration with our very own shadows. Exploration with light stimulates young minds as wells as motivates exploration and discovery. We used our overhead projector and let the children find their own shadows. They quickly realized that they each have a shadow that uniquely belongs to each child. The children compared their shadows; counting each limb, putting up different numbers with their fingers, comparing hair types and lengths.


Light is neither concrete nor physically tangible but can be observed visually through the effects of objects interacting with light, in this case the students’ body movement in relation with light.  Continuing their observance they expressed how some things “don’t work” or show up in their shadows. We focused on observing what doesn’t show up on a shadow; blinking their eyes, sticking out their tongues, and wiggling their noses. The students thoroughly discussed each feature on their body eliminating what is and what is not reflected.

20140325_091639Once the children spent time exploring their shadows, they were offered markers and were asked if they wanted to draw on their shadows. Some children traced their shadows and began filling in their anatomy while others drew their own pictures on the paper we projected on. Each one of our students are creative individuals who beat to their own drum so it was interesting to see if they drew within the positive or negative space of their shadows. Some students even incorporated counting into their drawings by marking where shadows showed up.


Later in the day we brought back shadow exploration by projecting shadows of different objects. We cloaked a sheet over the back of the overhead so the children couldn’t see the physical object but just the shadow. They played a guessing game on which animal we had placed down. The students came up with a variety of different ideas on which animal it could possibly be. Once all guessing possibilities of each animal were exhausted they counted each body part and drew a picture of what they saw. Each child’s interpretation was different and uniquely theirs.


Exploring shadows has provided the children with an immeasurable experience that has encouraged them to have an original, new outlook of their bodies in relation to light in a safe, educational, and positive environment. This has served as a prime example of how the children learned to interact with their environment while increasing their own self-awareness. The children demonstrated their firm understanding of this abstract concept by their eagerness to ask questions and discover new things about themselves through light and shadows. This experience will help the children continue to explore and discover what makes each of them unique; and how their uniqueness is a crucial asset in their relationship with the world at-large. Allowing the children to express their individuality has opened the doors for further exploration within our classroom and beyond!

“The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences.”

-Loris Malaguzzi


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