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English Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Learning task 1

Language and literacy intention(s) We are learning to predict, re-predict and explain our understanding of what is required to make a shadow.
Opportunities for Key competencies development Thinking
 Using Language Symbols & Texts
 Relating to Others
 Managing Self
Principles and values coherence High Expectations
 Learning to Learn

Big Idea - A Light source is required to create a shadow

Foggy Foggy Forest by Nick Sharatt’s shared by the teacher with the class as a starting point with the Shadows unit.
The text uses a number of known fairy tale characters. There is a sequence of questions posed with silhouettes in the illustrations on a double page spread followed by a colour illustration showing the characters involved in contemporary activities.
The graphic design of the book layout as takes the reader on a journey through the Foggy Foggy Forest.

The text was chosen as the pages are translucent and there is a sense of heading into the forest with illustrations showing more is to come becoming evident in each turn of the page. Also the reader can use the preceding shadows on the translucent pages to see where they have come in the walk through the foggy foggy forest.

Students are encouraged to predict what some of the unknown objects could be. Working in pairs the students use the Think Pair Share strategy.

The teacher is focussing on the students’ ability to:

  • Observe what happens in the forest. The readers enter the forest and also the different silhouette profiles and actions portrayed in the illustrations;
  • Predict – Re predict; use the visual cues on each page to support predictions and pose possibilities before confirming predictions when looking at the coloured illustrations on the next page
  • Make connections: students use examples given in the book and examining the detail of the silhouettes to predict possibilities of new silhouettes as the journey through the forest continues.
  • Interpreting images

Confirmation of skills and strategies to predict what the hand silhouettes could be further developed by viewing the following clip twice.

Hands - Fundacion

  1. The first time with the sound off and the students
     view the clip.
     Students try to identify the animals (on their own without calling out). Students then predict how many animals they identified.
  2. View the clip a second time, this time with animal sounds playing and get students to reflect on their initial predictions.

Students articulate why they selected those animals and what difference the introduction of sound made in their interpretation.

The teacher uses students’ oral responses used as a result of the What Makes A Shadow activity to build vocabulary word bank of words associated with size and movement. Generate discussion for students to look at comparatives etc and use orally in a sentence sharing their understanding with others. (ie vocabulary - small, smaller, smallest, larger, larger largest, big, bigger biggest.)
Shadows Vocabulary (PDF 26KB)
Shadows Vocabulary Teacher Notes (PDF 100KB)
Teacher then asks students to share key words and ideas that can be recorded and shared on the Shadows Word Bank (PDF 91KB) . Students also contribute and write words on the Word Bank.

Investigative Activity


What You Need

  • A light source data projector or overhead projector

What You Do

Discuss with the class where an object needs to be held for it to cast a shadow.

Demonstrate how a shadow is formed when an object is held between the light source and the wall.

Close down the light source by covering the lens on the data projector or turn off the overhead projector and ask the class why there is no shadow anymore?

Turn on the light source again and repeat the first demonstration. Discuss why there is a shadow again?

Close down the light source and ask why there is no shadow?

What to Look For

Make sure the students understand;

  • The object has to be between the light source and wall
  • A shadow is the absence of light
  • There must be a light source to create a shadow
  • That the edge of the shadow is not always sharp and clear

Opportunities for students to explore –

Allow the students the opportunity to try different objects.

When you vary the distance from the light source, what happens to the shadow?

What happens if you use a different light source:

  • a torch;
  •  a torch with cellophane filters (different colours);
  •  an Overhead Projector;
  •  a Data Projector/Slide Projector;
  •  the sunlight;
  •  classroom lights etc

Is the edge of the shadow sharp or blurry?

This is what some students thought about their shadow:

‘The shadow is bigger when the object is held closer to the screen.’

‘If you stand closer to the projector the shadow will be bigger.’

‘It does not matter where the object is held between the projector and the wall, it will always be the same size.’

‘When you hold the object close to the light source it will be very and sharp shadow.’

What do you think?
Give students the opportunity to explore their ideas with a range of equipment and get them to share back in small groups
Then each group selects one exploration they all were interested in and share with the class.

Definition Word Match (to be used throughout the unit, and can easily used more than once)
There are seven key terms used in this task that are required to be used and understood by students in the class in this unit.
This task has been designed to be used at any point throughout the Shadows Unit and not just once. (examples are given in the teacher notes). Cross cultural vocabulary and culturally significant phrases and beliefs to be incorporated throughout the unit and advocated in meaningful ways encouraging students to inquire into their understanding and use/explain meaningfully.
  Shadows Definition Match Template (PDF 239KB)
  Shadows Definition Match Teacher Notes (PDF 126KB)


Writing Opportunity that could run throughout the unit alongside the planned investigations and learning tasks
Students will attempt to create three different shadow puppet actions with their hand.

As a result of trials and practice they select the one the like the best (e.g. a rabbit hopping).

They write a set of instructions underneath 5 static visual images (photographs, drawings etc) to teach someone else how to make the shadow action.
5 Step Sequence (PDF 77KB)

Assessment opportunities by the teacher using the teaching as inquiry framework

Observation of students’ conversations and working in groups

  1. What information about the student’s learning and knowledge have I gained?
  2. What are the implications for my teaching
  3. What are the next learning steps - conceptual understanding, vocabulary, learner needs?

Students’ opportunity to assess their learning

Students are able to orally explain and demonstrate their understanding of a light source generating a shadow using some key words from the Vocabulary Word Bank.

Published on: 23 Jan 2011