Shadow Dance

Two children making shadows while dancing outside.

Play music and make dancing shadows with your child indoors and outdoors. How are shadows made?

10–20 minutes


Get Ready

Materials you will need:

  • For outdoor shadows:
  • Cell phone or iPad camera
  • Music device (iPad, cell phone, or radio)
  • For indoor shadows:
  • Dance area
  • Bright flashlight or flexible LED lamp
  • Large surface (wall or white bed sheet)
  • iPad or cell phone camera
  • Music device (iPad, cell phone, or radio)
  • Tape or clips

Things to do before the activity:

  • Plan to do the activity on a sunny day.
  • For outdoor shadows, look for a safe, sunny area with a flat surface for making shadows.
  • For indoor shadows, set up the shadow surface. Tape a bed sheet over an open doorway or drape it between two chairs. Position a light to shine directly on the surface. If shadows are faint or unclear, darken the room a bit.

A character with a speech bubble and bat with a thought bubble.

We can make shadows using our bodies.

How can we make a shadow move?


Step 1.

Get ready for outdoor shadow dancing. Go outdoors to a safe, sunny area. Watch how your shadow appears on the ground. Notice where the sun is shining on your body and where the shadow is cast on the ground. Safety alert: When looking for shadows outdoors, remind your child never to look directly at the sun because it can hurt his/her eyes.

  • How did you make your shadow appear on the ground?
  • Point out that a shadow appears on the opposite side of where the sunlight hits your body (or another object).
  • Why does your shadow appear on that side?

Step 2.

Start the music. When the music plays, start dancing with your child. After a while, stop the music and FREEZE! Call out things you notice about your shadows: for example, My shadow disappeared. Your shadow is next to my shadow.

  • Why do you think your shadow disappeared? Talk about how you can make it appear again.

Step 3.

Take turns making dance shadows. Take turns playing the music and making shadows. Call out things you notice about the moving and frozen shadows.

  • Together, count your child’s (arms). How many (arms) are in your shadow?
  • Point out where shadows appear as you dance: for example, Your shadow was (in front of) you. Now is it now (behind) you!

Step 4.

Take pictures of your child’s dance moves and frozen poses, if possible. Look at the pictures after the dance.


Look at the dance shadow pictures together.

  • Notice a picture that shows your child’s (two hands). Why is there only (one hand) in the shadow?
  • Why is there not a shadow in this picture?
  • How many different parts of your body are in the shadow?