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Stepping into Shadows

Taking art outdoors, this lesson explores shadows and light through contour figure drawings. Students will have fun imagining and creating an alter ego for their shadows.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Using a classroom white board, view “Father Duffy” by Lee Friedlander with the class. Ask student what this is a picture of. How did the artist show us an image? How might this image differ in information given then other photographs of the man? Discuss how the artist used shadows to separate positive and negative space in the artwork. In what other ways do artists use shadows?
    2. Teach students that a shadow is formed when an object is blocked by light. Discuss when shadows are longest and have students create hypothesis why this occurs constantly.
    3. Do a picture walk with students of the book “Chalk” by Bill Thompson. What was the story about? Which illustration did they find most exciting?
    4. Explain students will be going outdoors and working in pair teams to trace their shadows using Crayola® Sidewalk Chalk. Challenge students to think of dynamic poses. Have students take turns tracing each other with one posing and one tracing; then students switch, providing each child with the opportunity to have his shadow traced.
    5. Encourage students to personalize in a fun way by adding imagery with details that may or may not be realistic. Challenge students to consider an alter-ego in this activity. An example would be a child with cape and armbands. Encourage students to mix and blend colors as they fill in space inside objects added.
    6. As a class, walk around and view completed class work. Discuss common threads amongst works.
  • Standards

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Pose and respond to specific questions to clarify or follow up on information, and make comments that contribute to the discussion and link to the remarks of others.

    LA: Review the key ideas expressed and explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.

    LA: Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

    LA: Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).

    SCI: Represent data in graphical displays to reveal patterns of daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky.

    VA: Collaboratively set goals and create artwork that is meaningful and has purpose to the makers.

    VA: Elaborate visual information by adding details in an artwork to enhance emerging meaning

    VA: Determine messages communicated by an image

  • Adaptations

    If weather of location does not permit outside experience, create shadows with single light source in dimmed room. Roll out mural paper and Crayola Drawing Chalk™ to recreate outdoor experience.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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