Shadow Shadow – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Shadow Shadow

Become a real-life shadow! The goal of this activity is to follow each and every move of a partner. This group activity challenges children to practice balance and pacing, as well as improvisation.

Materials Required

  • No materials are needed


  1. Find a partner. Decide who is the leader and who is the shadow.
  2. The leader moves around. The shadow continuously follows each and every move of the leader without running into him or her.
  3. Leaders, try to make big and funny movements to add difficulty to the game! Movements might include: walking, fast walking, crawling, skipping, running, etc.
  4. Shadows, keep in mind that the leader’s movements can change at any moment. Be ready! Think about balance, distance, and pacing while copying the leader’s moves. Be careful not to run into the leader!
  5. After a few minutes, switch roles!

Additional Tips

Try this activity variation:

  • Try having two or more shadows follow one leader. Can you all move together?

Links to Creativity

This activity addresses a handful of powerful attributes that evoke creativity: improvisation through playful mimicry, openness to experience, and both physical and cognitive flexibility. While the activity ultimately asks one child to copy another child (seemingly the opposite of creativity), empathy is essential for following the leader. This activity also extends participation beyond merely observing another participant’s behavior and asks us to re-create that motion in a rather rapid fashion, which is not easy and is more than just simply copying.
Supporting research includes:
Ashton-James, C. E., & Chartrand, T. L. (2009). Social cues for creativity: The impact of behavioral mimicry on convergent and divergent thinking. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology45(4), 1036-1040.

Brown, T. (2008). Design thinking. Harvard Business Review86(6), 84-92.

McCrae, R. R. (1987). Creativity, divergent thinking, and openness to experience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology52(6), 1258-1265.


This activity was contributed by Playworks. For more information and resources please visit ©Playworks.

Shadow Shadow

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top