Light and shadow games

Age group

3-5 yrs

Number of children:

3-7 ppl

Areas it develops: creativity, imagination, cause-effect relations, using of tools, problem solving skills, learning about the world.

Observing and experiencing the qualities and changes of light and darkness, shadows and contrasts with sunlight, natural and artificial light sources.

The emphasis is on searching for a solution so it is important not to show them what to do with a certain object. Give them time to explore but make sure to observe in the meantime as some problems might surface during this activity.

This activity is especially beneficial for those kids who have difficulties with digesting experiences or for those who want results right away. In the description you will also find tips on how to help kids who find it hard when something touches their face.


  • a blanket or a larger veil

Let's talk about light!


First, always make observations about the current situation. How is the light inside and outside? When is it light and dark outside? Who prefers which and why? (personal, emotional effects)

Lights under the blanket


The kids hide under a blanket, a coat or a larger veil in pairs. Ask them to see if any light gets to them. When they get out of the blanket, they should tell the others what they have experienced.

Pro tip: Having and adult around is very important, especially with kids who are afraid of the dark or who don’t like when something touches their face. In these cases the game should be gradual. First, they only put their hand under the blanket and ask them to peek a little and see how light works there. Building a fortress or a tent is also a great idea because those aren’t fully dark. This way the blanket will not touch the kid, there is no complete darkness but the switches in light can still be detected.

Things' shadow


This is also a great opportunity for a child to realise that when they do something it will have an effect. With the help of torches show them the shadows of furniture, toys or basically anything. The adult can point out that as the light moves, so does the shadow. Then the children play the shadow game (which means that they stand behind each other and pretend to be each other’s shadows) but make sure that they regularly switch the roles. Later a performance can be done and the kids can evaluate the shadow plays. When they give feedback it is always important to say what they liked about a certain element.

Pro tip: This activity is especially beneficial for those kids who have difficulties with digesting experiences or for those who want results right away.

Catch the shadows


Try to repeat the same shadow or motion multiple times but with changing brightness or a different sized object. The direction of the light source or the movement of the object might also change. Children can play with shadows too: they can jump over each other’s shadows or might throw a bean bag on it.

Draw the ball's shadow


At the and of the session let’s put a ball or a box on the floor and light it in a way that its shadow becomes long. If the sun is out, let’s use it. Ask the kids to outline the ball then its shadow with their fingers and then ask them to do the same but this time with a pencil and on a paper. Once they are done let’s reflect on the activity: What did we do? What can we see in the pictures?