Kids are naturally inquisitive and shadows are endlessly fascinating. I needed to 1) help students inquire into how the light changes throughout the year 2) how this affects both living and non-living things and 3) cover measurement, time, and data objectives at the same time. Whew! Plus I needed to make sure my EAL kiddos understood all of these ideas, which meant it needed to be a hands-on-activity. I decided that we would document our shadows at several points throughout the year and then inquire into why they change. I had to pat myself on the back for such a great idea.
Except, hmmmm, I forgot an important thing. Scandinavia hides the sun behind thick clouds most of the fall and winter. For two weeks I would walk around outside to determine if the sunlight was clear enough for the kids to outline shadows. It took two weeks, but we finally had a clear day. We quickly ran outside with our roll of paper, scissors, and markers. Word to the wise: I forgot to account for wind- take things to weigh the paper down with.
A day later we measured the shadows using both standard and nonstandard units. We recorded our findings and compared them to our earlier shadows that we had taken at roughly the same time of day two months before. Even though the kids knew the basic science about how the earth moves around the sun this activity led them to ask more in-depth questions. It also gave them a purposeful reason to have ACCURATE measurements.
The journaling pages we used along with other time investigations and games are available in my store at both Teachers Notebook and Teachers Pay Teachers. Though this activity can easily be recorded in kids own math journal that they normally use in class.