Looking for fun Groundhog Day activities or creative light and shadow activities for preschoolers and other young kids? We’ve got you covered today with some of our favorite light and shadow play activities that will work with toddlers all the way through school age!
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I was walking through the living room the other day when I happened to catch my 18-month-old son making the most amazing discovery. He had found his shadow. And he was thrilled.
I watched him run back and forth in front of the patch of sunlight – squealing with delight as he watched his shadow run right along with him. You’ll have to watch the end of the video to see for yourself – but it was pretty clear that he had found a new friend.
Watching my little guy’s fascination with his own shadow inspired me to round up a bunch of fun ways to play with light and shadows – all are great for promoting motor and sensory development too! We love to use these ideas as Groundhog Day activities, but they can be used at any time of the year for some fun and creative exploration! Looking for more Groundhog Day fun? Check out this Groundhog Day printable book!
10 Light and Shadow Activities for Preschoolers, Toddlers & School Age Kids
Fine Motor Practice With Shadow Play
Using a projector light or other light source to create shadows of kids’ hands on the wall is a great way to practice fine motor skills. Working on finger isolation, thumb opposition, and other hand positions using shadows is a great way to keep their attention and focus.
Astronaut Starry Sky Projector
This awesome astronaut starry sky projector is an all-time favorite light and shadow toy for kids. Plug it in and it creates a beautiful starry night sky right on your ceiling! Use it at bedtime to create a calming atmosphere, in the classroom during quiet time, or in your sensory room to provide calming stimulation to the visual system.
Shadow Simon Says or Follow the Leader
Using whatever light source you have available, create shadows of kids’ entire bodies on the wall. Choose a leader and encourage the rest of the group to watch the leader’s shadow and follow along as he moves into and out of different positions.
Shadow Puppets light and shadow activities for preschoolers
Tracing Shadows Activity
Have kids trace outlines of their shadows with chalk on the pavement.
Or project shadows of various objects onto paper that is taped to the wall to get some practice with working at a vertical surface. Try using letter magnets or numbers and encourage kids to trace them using correct letter construction.
Draw a picture using a dark colored marker on a clear transparency. Shine light through the transparency to project the outline of the picture onto large paper taped to wall. Have kids trace over the lines to replicate the picture.
Visual Shadow Games for Kids
Work on visual perception by creating shadows of various familiar objects and having kids guess what the objects are just by looking at their shadows.
Create a calming visual sensory play experience for kids by experimenting with shining light through Magna-Tiles and colorful water blocks. See what happens when you overlap two different colored tiles or blocks!
Light Table Play
There are so many fun ways to explore light and shadows with a light table that can promote fine motor skills and other developmental skills too!
These light table activities for kids from The Artful Parent are a great place to start. Don’t have one? Create your own light table with materials you already have lying around the house (The Imagination Tree).
Kids love this fun twist on the classic game of tag. Instead of touching or tagging your opponents, in this game – if your shadow gets stepped on, you’re it!
The Coolest Invisible Ink/Flashlight Pens
If you’ve never tried invisible ink pens, trust us. You don’t want to miss out on these! One of our favorite light and shadow activities for preschool (and all ages!). Learn more about these and another one of the best writing tools for kids!
Draw an outline of a picture on a clear transparency (e.g. a flower or a tree). Project light through the transparency to create a shadow of the outline on a piece of paper taped to the wall.
Have the child fill in the outline to create a mosaic using: colorful stickers, small pieces of colorful tape, or small pieces of tissue paper.
There is more than one way to play – one to promote visual motor skills and one to promote gross motor skills!
Head outside at night with a group of kids. Decide who will be “it” and give that person a flashlight. To tag opponents, he has to shine the flashlight on them!
Or, turn out the lights and play inside! This time, give each kid their own flashlight and have them try to “tag” each other by catching each other’s light with their flashlight on the ceiling!
Shadow Printable Activity
Use the free shadow printable (fill out the form below) to play some fun shadow games with toys and objects you have around your house or in your therapy room or classroom! The activity includes an animal outlines printable and a printable with shadows of other household items and toys. Kids will have a blast crawling under the table with a flashlight to grab one of the printable shadow cards. Then, their challenge will be to match the shadow card to the actual object!
Fill out the form below for the printable – instructions included!
Shadows & Music!
Don’t miss out on the perfect companion to light and shadow play – music!
Nancy Kopman’s educational children’s music album, “Shadow”, provides the perfect musical backdrop for the activities above. It has songs about the moon, brushing your teeth, birds, spelling, breathing and more! Be sure to check out the Music With Nancy YouTube channel for more music you can use as a tool to teach your little ones (ages 0 to 10)!