Shadow Tag

(For Ages 2+)


  • Bright light for indoor play (a lamp with no shade will do), or a bright, sunny day for backyard play
  • 2+ players

Prep Time:

  • 5 minutes

Recipe for Fun!

Shadow tag is similar to other games of tag, like freeze tag, and Marco Polo - but with one big difference. Instead of touching other players to tag them, the goal of the person who is It is to tag the other players’ shadows, rather than touch them. The game takes just a few minutes to explain to kids and it’s just as fun when its kids vs. parents as it is when played in a larger group setting.

Tips: Fill kids in on the boundaries of the play space. For instance, if you are playing indoors - does running into the backyard count? Or, will the player be out of bounds and have to sit out the next round. Encourage kids to participate in setting the rules.

How to play shadow tag:

  • Briefly explain what a shadow is and show kids how it changes when their body moves to a different angle in the light.
  • Choose a player to take the first chance at being “It”.
  • The player who is it chases the other players, trying to step on their shadow.
  • If a player has their shadow stepped on, they are now It.

Shadow tag for younger kids: Toddlers and preschoolers are fascinated by shadows, but their little feet are easily tripped up while they are trying to run and keep an eye on their own shadow’s whereabouts. Instead of running, have all the players pretend to be slow-moving dinosaurs, or other fun, large animals like elephants. This levels the playing field for younger players, but is also fun for older siblings who may be joining in.

Benefits: Studies have shown that active play is critical to children’s physical development. While playing shadow tag, kids also have to constantly gauge how a person’s shadow will move as the player they are chasing changes their angle to the light - which is a STEM skill in action! And of course, social skills play a big role in shadow tag. Which player will they choose to chase? Should they make allowances for slower and younger players, or not? These are all decisions that will have social consequences. This is a great example of how play gives kids the chance to assume different roles and experiment with different approaches to social interactions.