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Lesson Plan

Casting Shadows Across Literacy and Science

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Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Deborah Ann Jensen, Ph.D.

Deborah Ann Jensen, Ph.D.

New York, New York


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



What makes a shadow? Do shadows change? Can a person escape his or her shadow? These and many other questions provide the framework for students to explore their prior knowledge about shadows as fiction, informational texts, and poetry. In this lesson, language arts skills are linked to the learning of science in a literacy-based approach to the study of shadows. Through discussion of literature on shadows and the use of questioning techniques to probe prior knowledge, students begin to explore scientific concepts and develop and test hypotheses. After studying shadows, recording observations of shadows, and hearing poetry about shadows, students create their own poetic response incorporating their knowledge. The inclusion of poetry in the lesson encourages aesthetic appreciation of scientific phenomena and invites students to observe the world around them from new perspectives.

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Shadow Watching handout: Students can use this handout to record their observations about shadows and light.

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Saul, E.W. (Ed.). (2004). Crossing borders in literacy and science instruction: Perspectives on theory and practice. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Chapters in this book (by different authors) address connections between science and literacy ranging from the literacy skills needed to read scientific texts to the advantages of a literacy-rich environment for learning science. Points covered include:

  • Science-focused books help students develop the skills required to understand informational texts, which are different from the skills developed by the narrative (story genre) texts typically used in reading instruction.

  • Using science information books as read-alouds allows children to use their past experiences to make sense of scientific ideas, provides opportunities for them to express themselves, and helps them develop scientific talk.

  • Hands-on science experiences can strengthen students' reading abilities and reading and writing can enhance science concept development.


Morrow, L.M., Pressley, M., Smith, J.K., & Smith, M. (1997). The effect of a literature-based program integrated into literacy and science instruction with children from diverse backgrounds. Reading Research Quarterly, 32(1), 5476.

  • Third graders participating in a combined literature and science program knew more science vocabulary and facts and scored significantly higher on tests in literacy and science than those students in a literature-only program.

  • By introducing science into the language arts program teachers created a rich literacy environment.


Galda, L., & Cullinan, B.E. (2002). Literature and the child. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

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