I was pleasantly surprised when BOTH boys enjoyed this project. It's simple and the final effect is really cool.
Here's how we made shadow portraits.
Draw a picture of yourself (your whole body, not just your head). When my oldest son struggled with the "make your person thick" direction, having drawn only a stick figure, I gave him a new sheet of paper and better directions.
(First draw an egg toward the top of your paper. Now draw two short parallel lines for it to sit on [the neck]. For your body, draw a rectangle. Then make a trapezoid shape below it and make a V in the bottom to separate your legs. Add ovals at the bottom of your legs for shoes. Now add arms, making them bend at the elbow, starting from the top of the rectangle [the shoulders]. Add facial features and hair and color clothes.)
Once drawn and colored, we placed a piece of black construction paper under our drawing. Then, we picked up both papers and cut out our full-body portraits, being careful to keep the two papers together. For my 5 year old, I cut around some of the delicate parts, then added a few small paperclips to keep the papers together as he finished cutting.
Once complete, we glued the black silhouette onto a piece of colored construction paper. We glued our colored portrait on the paper too, but this time just an inch or two away from the silhouette. Instantly, the portraits had shadows!
Lastly, the boys glued some colored squares of paper around the edges to finish their masterpieces.
I think these turned out wonderfully!
Want to pair it with a book or two on shadows. I'd highly recommend these! They both help explain the science behind shadows.
This great activity came from An Art Room Filled with Fauves. Stop by to see the extraordinary examples made by this art teacher's 2nd graders!
Extension: Go outside on a sunny day and have kids take turns outlining each other's shadows with sidewalk chalk. It's a blast!