Monday, April 11, 2011

Does the Tallest Child have the Tallest Shadow?

Why is it that children constantly battle over who is the biggest, the tallest, the fastest and overall the best? Needless to say that these sorts of discussions present wonderful opportunities for learning. As we know children often confuse the terms big, small, short and tall. However, we understand what their intentions are and in our discussions we offer the children the words that best fit their thinking.
These three young girls were engaged in a debate about their respective shadows. Each girl was certain that her own shadow was the "longest."

The teacher asked a question, "How do you think we can decide which shadow is the tallest?"

"We can just look and see," replied one of the girls.

"No we can't because we are moving around and the shadows change, " replied her friend.

Since these children were accustomed to using "loose materials" they decided to outline the shadows using small pebbles.

When they were finished they stood back and looked at their shadows. "Look!" said one of the girls. "You are the tallest, so your shadow is the tallest just like you!"
The girls begin outlining the first shadow using the pebbles.
The second child stands next to the first shadow, keeping with the same base line.
The third child encounters a small problem when she realizes that her shadow will fall into the trees if she uses the same base line. She decides to move back a bit.
The girls look at the three outlined shadows and determine that the third shadow's length was not greatly affected by the shifted baseline. 


  1. This activity has alot of value. The children are learning measurement using loose materials to assist them and alot of self correcting when the third child notices the shifted baseline and decides to correct it.~Sabrina

  2. Instead of rigid teaching the word"long, longer and longest", this is a great experience, children learn math from their daily experience.