Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

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

Learning task 5

Language and literacy intention(s)

We are learning to use scientific words explaining the reasons for the movement of shadows

Opportunities for Key competencies development

Using Language Symbols & Texts
Relating to Others
Managing Self

Principles and values coherence

High Expectations
Learning to Learn

Big Idea – The size, shape and direction of the shadow changes during the day
The teacher reviews with the class the concepts, definitions, word banks and experiences explored to date.
Students will write an explanation as a result of the investigative activity My Shifting Shadow.

Resources for teacher modelling, scaffolding and student participation in understanding the structure of an explanation can be found at:


What you need

  • A sunny spot on an asphalt area that will be exposed to the Sun all day.
  • Some chalk
  • Digital camera

What You Do

Go out at 9 a.m. and with a partner stand in one spot and have your partner trace your shadow.
Repeat this in a different place and trace your partner’s shadow. Measure the length of both shadows.

Repeat this on the hour until 3 p.m.

Take a digital photo of each set of outlines at the end of the day.

Each child can graph their set of shadow lengths.

Why do the shadow lengths change during the day?

What To Look For

That the student understands that it is the relationship of position of the Sun and the angle of the Sun’s rays striking the Earth that causes changes in the shadow.

The position of the Sun changes as the Earth spins.

Opportunities to explore

Could we use this information to tell the time?

What is a sundial?
Assessment of learning in this unit

The assessment task for this unit will require the students to apply the scientific concepts and vocabulary used over the series of investigations.

Each student will be required to apply their knowledge to use the Before Before After After framework to sequence the photographs of shadows over the course of a day matching the shadow position and length to times during a day.

Teddy Bear Shadow Template (PDF 1MB)
Teddy Bear Shadow Assessment Teacher Notes (PDF 221KB)

Students will then write an explanation that will require them to explain the movement of shadows in relation to an object over a day. It is expected they will use vocabulary and science specific vocabulary tin their explanation.
To confirm their conceptual understanding of the light source’s (the sun’s movement) they will position the sun in relation to each shadow on their poster.

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?

Published on: 24 Jan 2011