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Muddy Faces


A collection of simple outdoor activities for a sunny day – any time of year!

Art & Creating


Welcome to Muddy Faces Inspirations: bringing together activities & ideas with a specific theme, to inspire your time outdoors playing, learning & connecting with nature. Follow the highlighted links to take you to our step-by-step activity guides.

What is there not to love about shadows?! For a start it means the sun is out! Yay! You can play with your shadow, dance with your shadow, make it disappear, draw around it, find funny shadows, play guess the shadow or make a shadow puppet.

Shadow play can be a spontaneous and fun to explore with children, and a bit of simple modelling of what you can do can lead children to explore shadows in their own way.

What you'll need

  • a sunny day!
  • chalk
  • paved area or use backing paper/large sheets of paper

This activity has been provided by

Environmental Considerations

Consider the environmental impact of preparing, carrying out & completing this activity. Could this impact be reduced? Specific considerations for this activity could include:

  • chalk in a public space

Health & Safety Considerations

Follow your usual operating procedures and carry out appropriate risk benefit assessments.
Some considerations particular to this activity include:

  • never look at the sun directly

My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson

A poem to immerse you in the world of the shadow...

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

Simple shadow play

Find your shadow and play and experiment with it!

  • What can you do with your shadow?
  • What shapes can you make?
  • Can you turn your shadow into an animal?
  • Can you run away from your shadow or make it disappear?
  • Can you make some crazy dance shapes?
  • Stand on someone else's shadow and play shadow tig.

Use a camera to take some shadow photos. Make a display - it can be fun to have a guess at what the objects casting the shadows are!

Chalk + Shadows

Draw around an Object

Find an object with a shadow and draw around it.
Can you make it change shape? Draw around the new shape and talk about the differences.

Draw around a friend

A fun and co-operative activity. Using chalk trace around the shadow either directly onto a playground surface or onto large pieces of coloured paper if you are using white chalk.

Additional challenge - can the shadow maker stand still while they are being drawn around?!

Record the time next to the shadow if you want to observe how it changes (see below).

Observing shadows over time

Once you have drawn around a friend get them to stand in the same place at a different point in the day (remember to draw around their feet so they can stand in their own footprints) and make another chalk shadow outline. You could use a different coloured chalk and also record the time again. Observe how the shadow has changed as time has passed. Can you predict where it will go next?

homemade sundial

Sun dials

Northumbria University nustem project has a great step-by-step sundial activity.

Follow this link to download a pdf.

Shadow Art

  • colour in shadow outlines or make a shadow-shape collage with natural materials
  • make a shadow puppet
  • cast a colourful shadow using coloured transparent materials
  • take photos and videos!

Take it further

  • read a book about shadows; there are some lovely children's books available
  • explore the science of shadows

Disclaimer: Muddy Faces cannot take any responsibility for accidents or damage that occurs as a result of following this activity.You are responsible for making sure the activity is conducted safely.

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