ALEX Lesson Plan

Can you catch your shadow?

You may save this lesson plan to your hard drive as an html file by selecting "File", then "Save As" from your browser's pull down menu. The file name extension must be .html.

  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Samantha Maynor
System: Madison County
School: Madison County Board Of Education
Author:Courtney Hamilton
System: Madison County
School: Madison County Board Of Education
The event this resource created for:NASA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34216


Can you catch your shadow?


This is an interdisciplinary lesson about shadows and light where we track the motion of the sun across the sky. It involves components of sunrise, sunset, involving Mathematics, Science, and English Language Arts. This lesson will involve NASA resources, hands- on inquiry, and observational data.

This lesson was created as part of the 2016 NASA STEM Standards of Practice Project, a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 1
2 ) Construct explanations from observations that objects can be seen only when light is available to illuminate them (e.g., moon being illuminated by the sun, colors and patterns in a kaleidoscope being illuminated when held toward a light).

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.1.2- Recognize that light illuminates objects so they can be seen.

SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 1
8 ) Observe, describe, and predict patterns of the sun, moon, and stars as they appear in the sky (e.g., sun and moon appearing to rise in one part of the sky, move across the sky, and set; stars other than our sun being visible at night, but not during the day).

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.1.8- Identify major celestial objects (e.g., moon, sun, other stars) and when they can be seen in the sky.

SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 1
9 ) Observe seasonal patterns of sunrise and sunset to describe the relationship between the number of hours of daylight and the time of year (e.g., more hours of daylight during summer as compared to winter).

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.1.9- Identify the four seasons of the year in Alabama using common representations.

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will be able to investigate shadows and conduct an experiment where they measure and document their observations.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

61 to 90 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Teacher Materials:

“Bear’s Shadow” by: Frank Asch


List of students in groups of 5-7

Break students into groups from 5-7. Groups will need the following materials in each group:


Large coffee can of rocks

Large flat piece of cardboard or heavy paper ( at least 2X3)


Technology Resources Needed:

Interactive White Board, laptop with a projector, speakers for listening, internet access.

Padlet app or website at


Teacher Preparation: Teachers should go in before the lesson and create a Padlet account in order to save their own Padlet that is made with their class.

Students and teachers should be familiar with using a Know-Want to Know- and Learned (KWL) chart.

The teacher will need to review the book “A Bear’s Shadow” before reading it aloud to the class in order to have a general understanding of the book.

Teacher should access interest video regarding shadows to ensure that link and audio are working properly:

Teacher should find some open outdoor space-preferably in the school yard-that can be used every day.  Be sure to choose a spot unobstructed by trees or tall buildings which would shade this area early or late in the day.

Teachers should place a yardstick upright in a large coffee can filled with stones or soil.  This should be done for each group. 

Be sure to remind students that looking into the sun can cause permanent eye damage-never look directly at the sun.


Step 1 Students and teachers will create a KWL chart together using:  Each section will need its own Padlet.  The K and W are the only Padlets that should be completed at this time.

The teacher should read “Bear’s Shadow” to students aloud (whole group).  After reading the book, students should engage in a guided discussion with the students by asking the following questions regarding shadows. The teacher may want to record the responses on chart paper to refer back to during discussions.

  1. What do you know about shadows that makes this book funny?
  2. Why did their shadow disappear when he hid behind the tree?
  3. Why did the shadow disappear when he buried it?
  4. What makes a sun shadow fall one direction at one time and another direction earlier or later in the day?
  5. What other questions do you have about shadows?

Once the discussion is over, the teacher should refer to the KWL Padlet (K and W Padlets only) to update information that they may have learned about shadows as well as any other information that they would like to continue to learn about shadows.

Step 2 Students will watch an interest/introductory video regarding shadows.

A new shadow friend on the ground causes Dawn to find out more about what makes shadows come and go! Shadow play becomes the game of the day when Dawn plays hide and seek with the sun! Our audience learns how to make an eagle and alligator as hand shadows. Our audience learns how to make an eagle and alligator as hand shadows.

The teacher should pose the following question after reviewing the video:

  1. What do you think a shadow is?
  2. Is it real or make believe?
  3. Do all things have shadows?
  4. How can you make a shadow?

After viewing the video, Padlet information should be updated.

Step 3- Begin early on a sunny day and plan to make measurements throughout the day.  Select a suitable spot and the teacher will use a compass to determine North, East, South, and West. 

  • Place the cardboard on level ground such that the edges are aligned with the compass directions.
  • Take the coffee filled with rocks and the yardstick in the middle and put it at the center of the southern edge of the cardboard.
  • Mark the direction of magnetic north on the cardboard with a marker.
  • Mark the line and tip of the shadow cast by the yardstick with a marker and record the time of the observation
  • Ask students to predict where the shadow will fall after a certain time interval, such as 15 minutes or an hour.
  • Each student or group of students can mark the place that they predict with a marker.  The class can check their markings against the actual position.
  • Throughout the course of the day, periodically (every hour or half hour) record the movement of the shadow of the yardstick by marking the line in the tip of the shadow.
  • Discuss shadow observations by posing the following questions:  How do shadow lengths change during the day?  Why do they change?  Is there a pattern?  Why is there a pattern?  Is the sun directly overhead at any time?  Why is the shortest shadow around noon?  Why does the shortest shadow point north?  Why doesn’t it point in the same direction as the magnetic compass?
  • Complete the KWL Padlets as needed to include information learned during the observation.


Assessment Strategies

Teacher Observation

KWL Chart (L Padlet- What Students Learned)


Compare the North South line marked by the shadows with a compass.  Do they agree?  Discuss the difference between true and magnetic North.  A compass is simply attracted by the magnetic force.  Demonstrate how a nearby magnet can easily fool the compass.


Students who are having difficulty can be pulled to the small group table and retaught the lesson.  They may also receive additional support from the teacher during the measuring process.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.