Following Peter Pan’s shadow

Teacher: Aleksandra Filipovic
International School Crnjanski, Jagodina, Serbia

The project “Following Peter Pan’s shadow” was realized with the third grade students of the International School Crnjanski in Jagodina, Serbia. The project started on April 4th and ended on April 21st, 2022.The main aim of the project was to introduce students to the concept of shadow and the factors that affect its shape and size. The project is based on practical activities and independent work of students. For the needs of realization, a Wix site with the same name was created (link). The story  of James Matthew Barrie “Peter Pan and Wendy” was incorporated into the project itself, which connected the content with non-STEM subjects.

Working in small groups, the students had individualized instructions within the site, with which they had the opportunity to progress at their own pace, cooperate with each other and exchange opinions. One of the working conditions was that each student within the group must have their own responsibilities and contribute to the work of the team. At the very beginning, the group came up with the name of the team: Neverland group.

The contents of the site are distributed in several logically thematically connected virtual stations that aim to develop students’ digital skills on the one hand, and STEM competencies on the other. By connecting the content in this way, the boundaries between subjects are erased, which enables students to connect learning  with life.

Peter Pan’s shadow

First station

After a detailed acquaintance with the way of working, the students independently start working on the first station called Peter Pan’s shadow. The adventure with Petar Pan begins with watching an insert from the film of the same name, in which the students deal with the issue of his shadow that separated from him. Before watching, students are given research tasks on what to pay attention to during the insert, and checking comprehension and encouragement, and thinking about the further course of the project is done through a Fyrefox quiz with multiple choice questions, which discusses the degree of understanding subject.

Picture 1. Peter Pan’s shadow

Shadow art gallery


The Shadow art gallery station is based on the Shadow art resource. Due to the impossibility of visiting the pop-up museum, students on the site review selected photos downloaded from the Internet. The students are invited to look at different pictures that show shadow art. Their findings are discussed in class by asking questions:

  • What do you see on the pictures?
  • Which materials did the artist use to create the artwork?
  • How are the artworks created?

The selected photos met with positive reactions from students because they aroused curiosity about this way of forming a shadow that students have not encountered so far.

Shadow makers


Introducing students to the way of creating shadows and the factors we need to obtain a clear shadow was done through the Shadow makers station. Through the story of using the objects they noticed in Wendy’s room during the insert (cube, suitcase, glasses) to create a shadow, the students actually realize that they need a light source for that. They independently conclude that the shape of the shadow depends on the shape of the object itself. Special attention is paid to the analysis of materials from which objects are made, so that students can see that transparent objects do not give a shadow (example of glasses). In addition to the given subjects, students choose two subjects of their choice and record their observations in the table (download from site).

In the second part of the work on this station, students get acquainted with the types of light sources (natural and men-made) and check the acquired knowledge through a quiz on the site, receiving feedback on success and additional explanations. Based on the offered light sources, students should recognize which of the listed sources does not belong to the given sequence and explain why. The connection with the story of Peter Pan is made, among other things, by the question of whether Thinker Bell is a natural or men-made light source.

Picture 2. Shadow makers



Challenges activities are also based on the aforementioned Shadow art resource (download from site). With thematic harmonization with the theme of the story of Peter Pan through the idea that looking for shade Peter Pan and Thinker Bell made a mess in the Darling family children’s room and that Wendy’s dad took photos of that mess, students get worksheets to solve on their own with practical performance.

This resource has proven to be extremely useful and engaged. The contents are arranged on several levels of complexity. In the first level, students should make a shadow based on the given photos, using 3 cans and a flashlight, and they will sketch their sets from above and from the side. They draw conclusions about forming shadows. This is a great resource for practicing different perspectives, floor plans and scales.

Within the second level, students, creating a shadow based on the given photographs, independently realize that the size of the shadow changes depending on the distance from the light source and its position. Based on the given shadows, it was necessary to predict the position of the light source, which made the practical application of knowledge.

The third level, the most demanding, required students to imagine and draw a shadow based on a photograph of lined cans, applying previously acquired knowledge about the size and shape of the shadow. At the same time, the students had to take care and investigate which object will give which shadow  on the wall.

At the end of this stage of the work, students test the acquired knowledge through a quiz with questions of different levels of complexity.

The students especially liked this part of the project because by performing practical activities, they can experiment and determine how the size and shape of the shadow changes, test their predictions  and draw conclusions by working as a team.

Picture 3. Group work on STEM resource

Catch a moment


The Catch a moment page was called a creative station by the students because, working on these contents, they had the opportunity to show their ideas and express their views on the concept of shadows in different ways, applying previously acquired knowledge.

In the first segment of this station, students, hanging out with Michael Darling, first analyze a photograph that shows the shadows of animals, but does not show the way in which they were created. Only after discovering the secret trick, they receive instructions for performing these movements, on the basis of which they should make their own creations of amazing shadow animals.

Picture 4. Hand shadow art

The Creative puppets segment, among other things, encouraged students’ acting abilities. Improvising the selected roles, the students dramatized the meeting of Peter Pan with Wendy and her brothers, playing with their shadows. A recording of their performance is available on the site itself (link).

Picture 5. Peter Pan storytelling isolated shadow puppets

The enthusiasm caused by the work of artist Vincent Bal (Shadowlogy) was transformed into a series of independent student creations within the Shadow artists station, where using objects from the immediate environment and their shadows, students formed paintings: palm trees, muffins, dogs, octopuses and other works of art.

Picture 6. Following the example of the artist Vincent Bal

Skyline makers – Creative Island in Neverland

The main segment of the project was the Skyline makers section. The idea for the realization was also taken from the Shadow art resource itself. By working on this material, the students were able not only to nurture creativity, but also to get acquainted with the basics of engineering in the true sense of the word. Based on the given work criteria, they constructed the Creative Island settlement in Neverland. The procedure took place through the following stages:

  • sketching the floor plan of the Creative Island skyline;
  • making based on the created plan using materials from the immediate environment and objects of interesting and unusual shape that students previously brought from home (cubes, perfume bottles, spoons, toys, lamps…);
  • determining the name of the city and explaining the choice;
  • making a floor plan with all dimensions so that the city can be constructed in another place, practical measurement of the distance of objects from the wall or light source;
  • reflection on what was done through a discussion about what they learned, whether they applied knowledge in the field of mathematics and when, what was done well, to what extent the defined criteria of success were respected, what could have been done in a different way…

This was an excellent activity for the application of knowledge about dimensions, measurements and units of measure, spatial orientation and settlement plan. By integrating skills from different fields, learning was placed in a real context where students were maximally mentally engaged and focused on teamwork.

Picture 7. Skyline – Creative Island in Neverland



The final stage of the project included an Assessment, an evaluation of the organization of the project and an evaluation of the engagement of each student within the team. Students individually completed a five-point numerical or descriptive scale, the Likert assessment scale, assessing each statement. The results of the survey showed that the students understood the given instructions, the tasks were interesting and in accordance with their abilities, it was easy to obtain the necessary materials for the experiment, and they especially liked the story of Peter Pan which was used to complete the whole. As for team work, it turned out that students progress faster in this way, complement each other and exchange different ideas, were successful in applying knowledge to create a skyline, updated content in the field of geometry and improved their divergent thinking.