The backdrop is sturdy and stands up well. We set it up and assembled the shadow puppets and the light.
The children had to figure out for themselves the best position for the light and puppets to enable the shadows to reflect onto the backdrop. I feel that a page of instructions may have been helpful although there is also a part of me that liked them having to work it out for themselves. Perhaps a little section in the book about the science of shadows would be good?
The puppets are made of sturdy black card and the sticks have Velcro attachments so you can change the position if desired. I can see these being popular in a pre-school especially as a prop for an overhead projector. I would introduce the materials using the rhyming book and then let the children create their own stories.
My children enjoyed inventing their own story with the puppets.
Black Forest Theater – Dinosaurs retails for $29.99
Disclaimer: No payment was received for writing this review, we received a product for review purposes.
clear plastic or sheet of glass from a photo frame
bowl of water
I bought sun sensitive paper for my girls as a gift, but today was our first trial. We set out to find objects to place on the paper. Our first attempt used loose parts.
1. Create your designs inside, away from sunlight and put the paper on cardboard or a tray to help carry it outside.
2. Cover the picture with glass to stop it blowing away and keep it flat and place in the sun for 3-5 minutes. The paper will turn white.
3. Remove the glass and the objects. Place the paper in a bowl of water for 1 minute, to stop the chemical reaction.
4. Remove the pictures and leave to dry.
As you can see, one of the pictures came out clearly, whereas the other had only faint prints. The girls discussed why this might be.
Why did mine work better? I thought mine was in the sun longer but the other one was definitely in the sun for longer, so I don’t know.
It wasn’t because my things were heavier because I used sequins too. Maybe it wasn’t pressed on as hard?
I suggested they try another, to see if they could work it out. This time we searched the garden for natural materials. Usually, I only let the girls use natural things from the ground, but this time I gave them permission to pick flowers and leaves. They searched the flower bed and found things they hadn’t seen before, climbed the tree to reach leaves and lichen and we found that even weeds could have interesting shapes.
They chose their favourites to make a design.
And left them in the sun to develop
This batch was both successful.
I love the detail of the smaller leaf. The girls reflected on the success of these pictures.
I think it worked better this time because we laid the leaves really flat before we started, or perhaps it is because we left it in the water for longer? But I don’t think that would make a difference.
Even the little sequins came out this time.
We saved a few sheets for their big sister to try, it will be interesting to see what she will create. I also ordered bigger sheets because some of the bigger leaves didn’t fit on the 5×7 paper.
I recently cleaned out the linen cupboard and gave the kids a huge bag of old sheets to play with. They like to make-up stories and turn them into royal capes or build dens with them. In amongst them was a white sheet. I thought it could be used to build a shadow puppet theatre in the garden. We have a swing set that isn’t safe to use, so I removed one of the swings and fastened the sheet to the frame.
The children and I made puppets from cardboard. The children chose characters and I helped them draw them in silhouette. They collected sticks from the garden, whittled them to smooth them out and stuck the cardboard characters on with tape.
I also found images of hand shadows. I printed and laminated them and stuck them on the swing set frame for reference.
We had to do a bit of work cutting back the tree branches to make a clear screen, but soon it was ready. The magical stories they have created have been wonderful. I think this would be a great resource for a school or pre-school to encourage story telling and build the foundations of story writing. You could build it outdoors or inside with a light source behind.
Videoing the story showed the children where they needed to improve. They saw that sometimes you couldn’t see the characters well because they were too low or placed at an angle. They also noticed that the size of the puppet changed according to how close to the screen it was.
I love the way my daughter played with accents and voices. It particularly love the voice of the bird and banana man in the land of the forgotten.
Whether you’re on a camping trip and staying up late, or it is winter and there aren’t many daylight hours in which to play, the children won’t be able to wait to get out in the dark with these fun play activities. They could also help children who are afraid of the dark discover that darkness can be fun; give them a head torch or flashlight, hold their hand and venture out together.
We find head torches work particularly well for my daughter with poor eyesight.
Taking torches/flashlights outside is also a great way to observe the weather. Mist looks really eerie under a flashlight and you can watch raindrops in in the light rays.
Games to play
1. Flashlight/torch tag
The children run around, one child has a flashlight/torch and has to tag the other children by shining a light beam at them.
2. Grandmothers footsteps
The children quietly sneak up to the grandmother and if she hears footsteps she shines her flashlight/torch at the culprit and they return to the start. The object is to steal a piece of treasure she has at her side (we’ve used glow in the dark balls or glow sticks) and get back to the start with them without being caught.
3. Hide and Seek
My children love to play hide and seek so this is a real favourite. Hiding in the dark means you can find so many more great hiding places. The seeker uses their flashlight to find those who are hiding.
4. Glow in the dark water play
We added glow in the dark paint to water in our water table (a bowl or bucket would also work) .Drop in some glowing stars and moons, water beads and a variety of containers. Have fun making ‘star soup’.
Fill plastic Easter eggs with mini battery operated lights – you can also add water beads for an extra effect. Hide them around the garden and look out for where the lights are shining. My girls also enjoy hiding the eggs inside their clothes.
6. Glow in the dark sensory play
Add glow in the dark paint or pigment powder to goop (corn starch and water), water beads, play dough, shaving foam, or play dough. Make sure to charge it in the light first.
7. Glow in the dark painting
Paint on black paper with glow in the dark paint – you could put a large sheet on the fence or alternatively, mix the paint with corn-starch and a little water and paint directly onto the ground. It washes away really easily in the rain. We’ve used this to paint hopscotch on the driveway and used glow in the dark balls as markers.
8. Shadow play
Children love to play with shadows. Use flashlights or outdoor lights to cast shadows onto white walls or even better erect a white sheet between fences or trees and get the children to stand against it making shadows and shapes.
9. Light tables
We made a homemade light table from a translucent plastic box with a black lid. Turn the box upside down and place inside battery operated lights and /or fairy light There are all kinds of activities you can do with a light table . You can place natural materials, glass beads, buttons or candy wrappers on top to make patterns, spread sand or rice on top to make marks or use interesting coloured containers.
10. Look at the stars.
On a clear night what could be better than looking at the stars? We printed out a map of the stars but just to look up into the night sky can be awe inspiring.
11. Use glow in the dark balls or light up balloons to play catch or volleyball.
12. Swing glow sticks to see what patterns they can make or build constructions with glow sticks.
We have recently joined a wonderful group called Buy Nothing. The idea is that people in the local community share, via a Facebook group, the things they no longer need and offer them to others for free. It is a great way for an outsider like me to feel part of the community. Our group also has a central meeting point, where you can drop off and collect reserved items or look through the other items, to find little gems. Browsing the things people have offered has inspired lots of new play opportunities. Here are a few to share. You may be inspired to use some of the things you have stashed away or maybe even set up a Buy Nothing group of your own.
The Flower Shop
We were given a huge amount of fabric flowers from a member. I had often considered setting up a play flower shop at nursery but the flowers were so expensive and we needed a large quantity. I was very excited to finally have the chance to try it out. The girls have been making flower arrangements, taking telephone and internet orders and delivering the flowers in a little car. After posting photographs of the shop on the group page, we have been gifted even more flowers; such is the beauty of a community like this.
Special delivery for you
Trying out flower arrangements.
The girls have loved this so much and it looks really beautiful in the garden. They asked if there was such a thing as a real flower shop; so that’s next on the agenda.
Baby Bath – Water Beads and a Nail Salon
There was a poor, lonely baby bath, crying out for attention on one of our recent visits. A few water beads and hollow eggs later and we had an activity for my toddler class.
The girls had more great ideas when I brought it home. The water beads in the bath made a perfect foot spa for a nail salon.
Squeezy Bottles for Puffy Paint
Someone was giving away squeezy bottles, they were perfect for puffy paint.
My eldest was very impressed
Wow! What is this?
she remarked, when she spotted the dry pictures.
I saw an image of a beautiful mirrored table recently, so when someone offered mirrors, I thought we could recreate something similar.
Wow! it’s so cool there are 2 of me.
And I see two
it could be a tall tower
It’s a party tent
the sequins stick
It looks like lots of oreos with a piece bitten off.
It looks like cogs
I am so lucky to be able to provide my children with these opportunities due to the generosity of others. Inspired? Why not create a Buy Nothing group in your locality?
I’d never heard of a Children’s Museum before I moved here but as I entered the door I was greeted by a little bit of play heaven. I think I was more excited than the girls. My 9 -year-old remarked
It’s not really a museum is it?
True not in the traditional sense.
According to Wikipedia, Children’s museums are institutions that provide exhibits and programs to stimulate informal learning experiences for children. In contrast with traditional museums that typically have a hands-off policy regarding exhibits, children’s museums feature interactive exhibits that are designed to be manipulated by children. The theory behind such exhibits is that activity can be as educational as instruction, especially in early childhood.
In essence it’s like walking into a really well- resourced nursery or pre-school. I loved that many of the exhibits used simple, cheap materials that could be replicated at home, like a blackboard with a pot of water and brushes. I particularly like these; they would be a great addition to a child’s bedroom wall, garden fence or in a toddler room at nursery.
The girls loved this one and played with it for ages – even my 9-yr-old was fascinated.
The water area was a huge hit with my youngest. My favourite was a water bath with a transparent window so that you could see what was happening under water.
Behind the glass is an area for art based activities – musical instruments, painting, movement with ribbon sticks and scarves and drawing. The metallic walls made it so easy to dry and display pictures. What a great idea for a messy play room.
There were 2 light tables in the space with very different activities, the girls chose to trace and draw.
My eldest loved den building best of all. The smaller structures were not very stable so she negotiated with the other children in the space to create a big den together.
It isn’t very good – it keeps falling down
We built one together
More building – drainpipes and gutters
I’m so glad we discovered Children’s Museums and I’m looking forward to visiting the others in the area and sharing more ideas.
My 5-year-old was petrified of the dark when she was younger. She couldn’t even bear to have the curtains open and see the blackness outside. Only later did we discover that she had really poor eyesight and her fear gradually decreased once she had glasses. It is so lovely to see the progression from a terrified toddler to an excited child who loves to play outside in the dark with a torch.
Shadows provide extraordinary educational opportunities. Not only do they raise a spontaneous curiosity in the child, stimulating his imagination and exercising his emerging intellectual abilities but they are also omnipresent (even more than sand, stones, water or “pencil and paper”, because you only need a bit of sunlight or even a candle to produce them). Perhaps more effectively than other things, shadows can nourish the child’s need to do and to experiment given the ease with which the variables involved in their formation and transformation can be manipulated.
( Guido Peter – The Hundred Languages of Children)
My youngest has become increasingly fascinated by shadows. As we walk along she shouts
I can see your shadow
my shadow is long
With this in mind I thought it would be a nice idea to make shadow shapes and draw around them with pavement chalk. Some shapes worked better than others, my youngest daughter’s shadow looked a little like an embryo!
The girls drew around them. They were particularly interested by the fact that they couldn’t see the whole of their legs. It was a very hot day so only my 4- year- old wanted to colour in the detail. They were very proud of them and pointed them out to their dad every time he walked over the driveway.
drawing around shadows
The finished outline
the finished drawing
My 4- year -old has very poor eyesight and needs practice copying and tracing shapes to enhance her perceptual motor skills . I hate the idea of sitting her down with worksheets so I thought shadow tracing might be a nice alternative. We took a number of objects outside to draw around. We even attempted to draw around her bike, which was a little tricky.
Later in the week we were playing with blocks in the house.
My 2-year old declared
I have a shadow, it’s behind me
Where is the shadow coming from? What makes it appear?
Maybe the fan.
Okay, so let’s turn the fan off and see if they disappear. Has it gone?
My 4-year-old had an idea
I know maybe it’s the light, let’s turn it off. It’s gone!……………oh hang on it’s still there, it’s just fainter.
Shall we see if we have a shadow outside today?
We don’t have a shadow……. Oh wait, when you sit down there is a bit of a shadow.
When we sit down there is a bit of a shadow.
Why do you think that happens?
I don’t know. Let’s see if there are any shadows on the grass. No, not even the dog.
Do the trees have shadows?
Yes and the bushes.
investigating shadows near to the ground
My 2-year-old had an idea,
Maybe the sun has taken away our shadows.
No, that’s not right because the sun makes the shadows.
Maybe when the sun is not there it takes them away?
I know, let’s draw a sun and see if they come back.
I know we can stand in the sun and make it bright colours to see if it comes out.
In the meantime my 9-year-old came to join us. I told them the girls had a bit of a problem that they were trying to solve and wondered if she could work it out.
Why is it that when it is cloudy there are no shadows but when things are close to the ground there is a small shadow?
Maybe it’s because it is darker when you are close to the ground
But there is no sun and you need light to make a shadow.
Yes, but if it was dark I couldn’t make a shadow because it couldn’t get darker.
If we were in the sun and it was too bright what would we do?
Stand in the shade.
What makes the shade?
So what is happening to make the shade?
I don’t understand.
I drew a picture of the sun in the sky with a stick person stood underneath and a tree with a stick person underneath the tree.
Oh, the tree gets in the way of the sun.
At that moment as the girls were standing in their picture of the sun, the sun came out.
I think we might work on reflections as a starting point for our pre-school year . We could
Resurrect the shadow puppet theatre
Use the projector to make and investigate shadows
Place paper on the windows and observe and trace shadows
Continue to talk about and ask questions about shadows when we are out and about.