ALEX Learning Activity


Lego Shadow Art

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Meghan Denson
System:Hoover City
School:Brock's Gap Intermediate School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2064
Lego Shadow Art
Digital Tool/Resource:
Web Address – URL:
Not Applicable

This is a STEAM activity that allows students to reinforce their knowledge of materials that allow and do not allow light to pass through an object. The students will build an opaque Lego tower and use its shadow to create a piece of artwork.

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Gap Project.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 1
3 ) Investigate materials to determine which types allow light to pass through (e.g., transparent materials such as clear plastic wrap), allow only partial light to pass through (e.g., translucent materials such as wax paper), block light (e.g., opaque materials such as construction paper), or reflect light (e.g., shiny materials such as aluminum foil).

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
P4.2: Objects vary in the extent to which they absorb and reflect light and conduct heat (thermal energy) and electricity.

NAEP Statement::
P4.9: Light travels in straight lines. When light strikes substances and objects through which it cannot pass, shadows result. When light travels obliquely from one substance to another (air and water), it changes direction.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Planning and Carrying out Investigations
Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect
Disciplinary Core Idea: Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Given materials, determine if light passes through, partially passes through, is blocked or is reflected.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • transparent
  • translucent
  • opaque
  • reflect
  • investigate
  • observe
  • light
  • partial
  • block
  • material
  • record
  • data
  • shiny
Students know:
  • Some materials allow all light to pass through.
  • Some materials allow partial light to pass through.
  • Some materials block all the light from passing through.
  • Some materials reflect light, which changes its direction.
Students are able to:
  • Investigate to determine the effect of placing objects made of different materials in a beam of light.
Students understand that:
  • Simple tests can gather evidence to determine that placing different materials in a beam of light will cause light to either: pass through, partially pass through, block, or reflect.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Sound and Light, Foss
Sky, Delta

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.1.3- Identify objects that are see through (transparent) and objects that are not see through (opaque).

Arts Education
ARTS (2017)
Grade: 1
Visual Arts
3) Develop skills by following a sequence of steps to create works of art on subjects that are real or imaginary.

Example: The teacher will model an artistic technique.

Unpacked Content
Artistic Process: Creating
Anchor Standards:
Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
Process Components: Investigate, Plan, Make
Essential Questions:
EU: Artists and designers experiment with forms, structures, materials, concepts, media, and artmaking approaches.
EQ: How do artists work? How do artists and designers determine whether a particular direction in their work is effective? How do artists and designers learn from trial and error?
Concepts & Vocabulary:
  • Complementary colors
  • Contrast
  • Curator
  • Elements of Art
    • Texture
  • Landscapes
  • Portrait
  • Positive/ negative space and shape
  • Principles of design
    • Repetition
    • Variety
  • Secondary colors
  • Still life
  • Technique
  • Venue
Skill Examples:
  • Work with a partner or small group to create an artwork.
  • Use the book Perfect Square by Michael Hall to help "thinking outside the box" skills.
  • Create two-dimensional artworks using a variety of gadgets for printmaking.
  • Use paint media to create paintings of family portraits or a favorite memory.
  • Create three-dimensional artworks such as clay pinch pots or found-object sculptures.
  • View a step-by-step demonstration of an artistic technique.
  • Properly clean and store art materials.
  • Use Mouse Paint book by Helen Walsh to teach color mixing of primary to achieve secondary colors.
  • Create a painting inspired by Piet Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie.
  • Create a "Pop Art" inspired artwork of positive and negative spaces and shapes by using colored paper cut-outs and gluing to different background squares.
  • Make a color wheel and identify the complimentary colors (red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple).
  • Draw different forms in the school environment: cones in the gym, cubes in math center, and sphere used for a globe.
  • Create texture rubbings by placing paper over different surfaces and rubbing with a crayon or oil pastel. Use a rough brick wall, a smooth table, bumpy bubble wrap, or soft felt shapes.
  • Use repetition in art by looking at the designs on a shell or the stripes of a zebra for inspiration.
Learning Objectives:

Students will show understanding that opaque objects such as Legos do not allow light to pass through creating a shadow.

Students will use the shadow made by the Legos to create a work of art.

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

The teacher will ask the students what translucent, opaque, and transparent mean. The teacher will display a Lego and ask whether the object is translucent, transparent, or opaque. 

Students will respond that it is opaque. Ask them what happens if we shine a light on the object. Students should respond by saying the Lego will not allow light to pass through and that it can create a shadow. 

Give groups of students (two to four students each) a bag of Legos. Tell students they are to build a tower using the Legos so that they can then use the opaque object to cast a shadow on their paper. 

Allow students the ability to manipulate a flashlight to cast a shadow off of the tower they created onto a piece of paper. Another student will trace the shadow using the pencil. Have students repeat this step until all students have a traced shadow. 

Ask students to share why their shadows might look different. Some answers will be different shapes and the difference in how far or close the light was to the object. 

Next, have students turn this traced shadow into a piece of art using their imagination. Students may use any media to complete this project. 

Assessment Strategies:

Teachers will take up artwork and assess student work for completion. 

The teacher will observe student responses during the initial discussion to assess students' knowledge of opaque, translucent, and transparent materials. The teacher will observe the students' investigation of building materials.  

Advanced Preparation:

Students need to be placed in groups of two to four. 

Each group will need a bag of Legos, a flashlight, and a pencil.

Each student will need a piece of blank paper to trace a shadow. Legal size paper works best. 

Students will need to have an understanding of the terms translucent, transparent, and opaque.

Variation Tips (optional):

Any opaque building object will work for this activity. 

Notes or Recommendations (optional):

You might need to help students keep flashlights still when they are tracing the shadow. 

  Keywords and Search Tags  
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