• sunlight
    Created by Darlene Howald and Bob Hutchison


    This unit introduces the relationship between light, an object, and the formation of shadows. Children observe the apparent movement of the Sun and the associated changes in shadows.

    Grade Level(s): Grade 2 Grade 5

    Subject Area(s): Science


    Curriculum Standards

    Observe and describe how the Sun, Moon and stars all appear to move slowly across the sky.

    Describe how night and day are caused by Earth's rotation.

    Explain that Earth is one of several planets to orbit the Sun, and that the Moon orbits Earth.

    Describe the characteristics of Earth and its orbit about the Sun (e.g., three fourths of Earth's surface covered by a layer of water [some of it frozen], the entire planet surrounded by a thin blanket of air, elliptical orbit, tilted axis, spherical planet).

    Observe and describe that some weather changes occur throughout the day and some changes occur in a repeating seasonal pattern.

    Demonstrate that in science it is helpful to work with a team and share findings with others.

    Use whole numbers to order, count, identify, measure and describe things and experiences.

    Use appropriate tools and simple equipment/instruments to safely gather scientific data (e.g., magnifiers, non-breakable thermometers, timers, rulers, balances, calculators and other appropriate tools).

    Use evidence to develop explanations of scientific investigations. (What do you think? How do you know?)

    Recognize that explanations are generated in response to observations, events and phenomena.

    Detailed Plan


    This unit introduces the relationship between light, an object and the formation of shadows. Children observe the apparent movement of the Sun and the associated changes in shadows.


    Students will do the following while using Northwood's Outdoor Learning Lab:

    1. Define shadows, rotation, and axis,
    2. Observe the length of a shadow at different times of the day,
    3. Observe the position of a shadow at different times of the day,
    4. Measure the length of a shadow at different times of the day,
    5. Measure the angle of a shadow at different times of the day,
    6. Explain why the position of a shadow changes as the day progresses,
    7. Explain why the length of a shadow changes as the year progresses,
    8. Collect data using spreadsheets,
    9. Collect data using digital camera,
    10. Graph data collected.


    -What is the definition of a shadow?
    -What factors effect the length, position, and brightness of a shadow?
    -Take short pre-test found in "Files" section.


    Day 1

    1. Model "Shadow and Light" activity found in "links" section using HP PC-Tablet and HP Projector.
    2. Students experiment with the effects of length, position, and brightness of shadows using "Shadow and Light" activity on individual computers.
    3. Complete Activity Sheet #1.

    Day 2 (Fall)

    1. Students will be divided into groups with 4 team members in each. These teams will work together throughout the year.
    2. Each team member will be given a specific responsibility:
    **Facilitator will follow direct activities using instructions provided on-line from PC-Tablet.
    **Data Collector will measure angle and length of shadow at 10:00am
    **Photographer will document results by taking a digital picture of shadow with meter stick and protractor showing measurements.
    **Recorder will document date and results on electronic spreadsheet.
    3. Students will perform "jobs" at six pre-determined locations at Northwood's Outdoor Learning Lab.

    Day 3 (Winter)

    1. Predict how recorded Fall results will differ from data collected today.
    2. Record predictions on Activity Sheet #2.
    3. Teams members will repeat "jobs" at same six pre-determined locations at Northwood's Outdoor Learning Lab.

    Day 4 (Spring)

    1. Predict how recorded Winter results will differ from data collected today.
    2. Record predictions on Activity Sheet #3.
    3. Teams members will repeat "jobs" at same six pre-determined locations at Northwood's Outdoor Learning Lab.

    Day 5

    1. Create a graph for each set of data collected throughout the year.
    2. Analyse how the information collected changed from season to season.
    3. Review information discovered during this project.

    Day 6

    1. Complete post-project assessment found in "Files" section.



    Activity Sheets

    Activity Sheet #1
    Draw shadow based on Sun's location.


    Activity Sheet 2


    Activity Sheet 3


    Activity Sheet 4

    Completed Data Sheet

    Completed Data Sheet

    Data Collection Sheets

    Data Collection Sheet

    Lesson Evaluation

    Lesson Evaluation Form


    Data Collection
    How to collect data on sunlight and shadows.


    Lesson Introduction
    Introduction to sunlight, shadows, and seasonal changes.


    Shadows and Light


    Hear Comes the Sun




    Turn Turn Music

    Shadow Videos

    Sadows and Directions


    Shadow Length


    What is a Shadow?

    Stroll Lesson Files

    Grades 2 and 5 Outdoor Learning Lab Lesson

    Stroll Videos



    How to measure


    How to measure with a meter stick


    Knowing your directions


    Making Observations


    Making Predictions


    Predictions for next time


    2nd Grade Postest


    2nd Grade Pretest



    Earth Science

    Sunlight and Shadows
    Children will discover how a shadow changes when the properties (brightness, position, distance) of a light source are changed.



    Students complete appropriate end of unit assessment found in "Files" section.

    Accuracy of student predictions on activity sheets.

    Observations while students collect data.


    Needed Resources

    -Northwood's Outdoor Learning Lab
    -HP PC-Tablet
    -HP Digital Camera
    -Meter sticks
    -Wireless Technology
    -Online Activity from Science Clips Website: Light and Shadows
    -Attached Forms



    Powerpoint presentation with audio and video will help "level the playing field" for visual learners and those with reading challenges.


    Interdisciplinary Connections


    Demonstrate skills and explain the benefits of cooperation when working in group settings:
    a. manage conflict peacefully,
    b. display courtesy,
    c. respect others.

    Demonstrate self-direction in tasks within the school community.

    Predict the next event in a sequence.

    Communicate research findings using line graphs and tables.

    Use a problem-solving/decision-making process which includes gathering information.


    Identify and select appropriate units of measure for length: centimeters, meters, inches, feet or yards.

    Pose questions, use observations, interviews and surveys to collect data, and organize data in charts, picture graphs and bar graphs.

    Read, interpret and make comparisons and predictions from data represented in charts, line plots, picture graphs and bar graphs.

    Write a few sentences to describe and compare categories of data represented in a chart or graph, and make statements about the data as a whole.

    Use physical models and pictures to represent possible arrangements of 2 or 3 objects.

    Identify and select appropriate units to measure angles; i.e., degrees.

    Use benchmark angles (e.g.; 45�, 90�, 120�) to estimate the measure of angles, and use a tool to measure and draw angles.

    Select and use a graph that is appropriate for the type of data to be displayed; e.g., numerical vs. categorical data, discrete vs. continuous data.

    Compare what should happen (theoretical/expected results) with what did happen (experimental/actual results) in a simple experiment.

    Make predictions based on experimental and theoretical probabilities.


    Axis- A straight line about which a body or a geometric figure rotates.

    Celestial Body- A planet.

    Orbit- The path of a celestial body or an artificial satellite as it revolves around another body.

    Equator- The imaginary line around the middle of the Earth that divides it into two equal parts perpendicular to the axis of the earth.

    Revolution- The action by a celestial body of going round in an orbit.

    Rotation- One complete turn of a celestial body on an axis.

    Shadow- Partial darkness due to the obstruction of light rays.


    Credits and References

    BBC home at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/

    Smithsonian Institution
    Site designed by Tania Ruiz at: