This simple activity visually records the movement of the sun and the shadow it casts during various times in the day. 


Tracking Shadows: Understanding how the sun changes position throughout the day and how this would affect where shadows are cast.

  • An object  (We went with an outdoor plant)
  • Paper  (We used watercolour paper)
  • Drawing tools (We used oil pastels)


  • Watercolour paint
  • Water
  • Container
  • Paint brush/tool

We always find these items helpful too: (Crafts & activities for kids)

  • Smock
  • Craft tray



  • Chose a location that won’t be disturbed.  We went with the top of an outdoor picnic table.
  • Position your paper and set your object in the centre.
  • Using your pastel, outline the shadow that is created.  We used a different colour for each time that we did this so that the changes would be clearly indicated.
  • We did this at specific times:  9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.  Do you notice anything about the pattern you have created?


  • Don your smock.  Dilute your watercolour paint according to the directions on the package and apply a wash over your project.  Allow to dry overnight.
  • Lightly write the date in the corner of your work and if you like add a small note of the time near each line or record this on the back.
  • Pop your work into a frame.


  • Investigate:  How was the sun used to tell time?  How does a sun dial work?


  • Understanding that the sun moves throughout the sky during the day.
  • Undertanding that the position of the sun affects where and how a shadow will be cast.

Safety Notes

  • We suggest that you wear a smock and use a craft tray to protect your clothing and surfaces.
  • When outside, be sure to wear proper sun protection: hat, sunscreen etc.
  • We suggest that store your drawing tools inside in between recordings as they may melt depending on the material and the temperature where you live.
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