Shadows and Silhouettes

Shadows and Silhouettes

I often get ideas for activities that I wish I had done with my kids. These ideas are often the result of wisdom gained about what children actually enjoy doing, what is affordable, and what would have been multi-purpose.

Kids love to play with light. Flashlights in their stockings would have been a great idea. We could have stored them by their beds and had some hand shadow fun before going to sleep. We could have hid under the covers and read “What is a Whispery Secret?” We could have brought the flashlights outside for some flashlight tag fun. And even used it to navigate to the bathroom when necessary, incentive to go to the bathroom before bed.

As I said in yesterday’s post, Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem The Shadow in A Child’s Book of Verses one of my favorites. Its playful and captures the mystery and the antics of shadows.

Lyndsey Stirling captures the fun of shadows as well in this video:


Plato’s Allegory of the Cave could make a fun re-enactment. From Wikipedia: “The allegory contains many forms of symbolism used to describe the illusions of the world. The cave represents the superficial world for the prisoners. The chains that prevent the prisoners from leaving the cave represent ignorance, meaning the chains are stopping them from learning the truth. The shadows that cast on the walls of the cave represent the superficial truth, which is an illusion that the prisoners see in the cave. The freed prisoner represents those in society who see the physical world for the illusion that it is. The sun that is glaring the eyes of the prisoners represents the real truth of the actual world.”

This could be re-enacted even if not fully fleshed out with regard to what each aspect means. Later, when your children are studying the Allegory of the Cave, they may recall this activity like they recall memory songs or memory work.

Art with shadows is fun because the kids don’t have to draw the entire object. It is like filling in an already drawn object, something kids can do more easily . . ..


Exploring the different parts of a shadow . . . umbra, penumbra, and antumbra would be helpful too. This video explains them.

You can take photos of shadows created by different lights and objects . . .

One of these is not a shadow . . . which one is it? Do you know what it is called?

And this is where you can introduce the difference between a shadow and silhouette.

ALERT PG-13 content! As you can tell from the thumbnail . . . this link contains graphic material. It is powerful for ages that can handle it and shows the number of effects produced by shadow and silhouettes . . . but watch before you have your children view it. And perhaps there is something similar for younger ages.

Art with silhouettes can be fun too. My favorite silhouette projects are crayon art and coffee filter ballerinas.

And of course, playing with shadows and silhouettes in dance . . .

Attraction on Britain’s Got Talent . . .

Attraction on America’s Got Talent, The Champions . . .


Shadow Theater VERBA . . .

The question is . . . are these shadows or silhouettes or both?

And of course, no study of shadows would be complete without a reading or viewing of Peter Pan. Fun fact: my father’s cousin, Bobbie Driscoll, voiced Peter Pan in Walt Disney’s animation. Finding Neverland is one of my favorite movies.

These are affiliate links to the books mentioned in this post . . .

Do you have any fun shadow or silhouette activities?

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