Gruffalo's child shadows

My youngest son has been asking to hear the Gruffalo's Child story by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler lots of times during the last few weeks, so I thought we could explore an idea from the book. In the story, a small mouse appears scary by climbing a branch so that the moonlight casts a huge shadow! 

I cut some paper into the shape of a mouse (and also a Gruffalo and child Gruffalo) and stuck them on straws so we could experiment with their shadows. We used a white sheet and a torch, so I could shine the torch on the sheet with the boys the other side.  You could just shine the torch on a wall, but it wouldn't have quite the same effect of not being able to see how the shadows were made!

Mouse and Gruffalo's child

There were squeals of delight as a tiny mouse shadow got bigger (I moved the paper closer to the torch!) and they loved the recognisable Gruffalo shapes. My 4 year old wanted to try it himself and made a big Gruffalo to try and scare his brother! 

Experimenting with changing the size of the shadow

He worked out how to make the shadow get bigger and smaller by changing the distance between the torch and paper (although the coordination of shining the torch in the right direction with the other hand was a challenge so a fixed light source might be better). When the paper is close to the torch it blocks more of the light, so casts a bigger shadow.  The little one was curious about how it worked, but he left his brother to demonstrate whilst he watched!