"Shadow Wash" by Shel Silverstein

"Shadow Wash" by Shel Silverstein (Where The Sidewalk Ends, page 113) is the tragic tale of the narrator's attempt to wash her shadow and it (spoiler alert!) shrinks! I've been trying to incorporate more poetry into storytimes.

I saw this idea in Nancy Renfro's Storytelling with Puppets. Before you start the poem, talk to the kids about their shadows. Then ask them "Have you ever washed your shadow? No? Maybe it's time you did!" Then go right into the poem, which is best as a prop story.

To tell it, you'll need a large shadow and a smaller shadow (pattern I made, can be enlarged to whatever size is desired) cut out of felt. Hide the small shadow in a container (bucket, bowl, etc.). Show the large shadow as you tell the poem, and put it the container when indicated by the text. Pull the "shrunken" shadow out at the appropriate time. A small bottle of soap could complete the effect, but is not required.

Doing a shadow-themed storytime? A felt board story to try is Gregory the Groundhog Looks for His Shadow. I've also posted shadow puppet versions of the picture books Mother Mother Mother I Feel Sick Send For the Doctor Quick Quick Quick and Arthur's Nose. More will be coming up in the next few weeks too! 


  1. Like you, I have been trying to add more poetry to my story times. It is that whole "common core" thing. Did you know that kids have different reading levels for fiction and nonfiction? It is only through exposure and practice that the skill goes up.

    Anyways, I think I am going to steal this for our upcoming groundhog story time!

  2. What a clever idea! I usually mix shadows in with my groundhog day storytime as well, and it's fun to have something new to try!

    (Why oh why aren't there better groundhog stories...)


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