I tell my students that the theme of this unit is Shadows. I say, Does anyone know what a shadow is? Have you ever seen your shadow get really big? Have you ever seen a shadow look funny or scary? I give students time to think. Think time is so important because when children are given more time to think, the length and correctiveness of their answers increase and the number of "I don't knows" decrease.
I say: Turn and talk to your partner about shadows. Share what you know. You can also ask your partner a question about shadows to see if they know something you don’t know!
I really like this video because it is manageable and comprehensible for kindergarten students. It weaves the rigor of the science behind shadows into an animated story that engages the kids. It introduces both vocabulary and concepts in meaningful context to give the kids something to take with them into the first read of What Makes A Shadow? What Makes A Shadow? is a nonfiction read that builds on what is learned in the video.
I show students the cover of the book What Makes a Shadow? I point to the title and remind kids that this is the name of the book. Say: Does anyone remember what we call the name of the book? (title) I then point to the name of the author and the photographer and we talk about their roles.
The first page of the story has focus questions that I usually read to the students. Say: Boys and girls, today we are going to be reading about shadows. While we are reading, I want you to think about and listen for information that tells us where shadows come from. Where do shadows come from? Also, at the end of the story let’s see if we can name some things that have shadows!
This story is fairly straight forward and the pictures support the text well. I don’t usually need to do any step asides or check for understanding. I try to make this as much of an unencumbered read as I can. My students are high poverty and low English, but they just love this story!
I review the focus questions. Say: Boys and girls, where do shadows come from? (Shadows are made when the sun cannot shine through an object.) Can you name some things that have shadows? (tree, house, animals, cars)
I like to show the students p. 8 and point to the girl standing behind the tree. Ask: Why can’t we see her shadow? They need to focus on the illustration for the answer and I often have to guide them to it. I help them understand tha the sunlight cannot pass through the tree. The girl isn’t blocking the sunlight, the tree is.
After we’ve read the book and examined the pictures, I ask the kids to draw a picture and a shadow. I model one for them. Say: Boys and girls, what should I draw? Does anyone have a suggestion? (take a student suggestion) I’m going to draw a tree. I proceed to draw a very basic tree with color.
Say: Now I want to draw my tree’s shadow. What color is a shadow? (black) I am going to use black for my tree’s shadow because that is what color shadows usually are. Now, let’s think. Where do we usually see shadows? (most students will say the ground) I am going to draw my tree’s shadow on the ground. Does it stand straight up like my real tree? (no) Watch how I draw my shadow on the ground. I draw the black tree shadow horizontal at the bottom of my paper. I train the kids to have the shadow touch their ‘real’ drawing on the bottom so that I know the shadow belongs to it. It gives the kids a concrete starting point (see example)
I usually hang these drawings somewhere in the room and they stay up throughout the unit of study.