Shadow Box Puppet Theater

A very important factor in your toddler’s development is taking part in imaginative play.  This is partly because imaginative play is a natural way for children to both learn about and express their understanding of their world.  So what exactly is imaginative play?  Imaginary play happens when children use their imaginations to create pretend and make-believe scenarios.  One way to encourage imaginary play is through the use of toy figurines, puppets and dolls, for example.  Today’s post is a great way to get your tot excited about using puppets because it has the added elements of light and shadows!

 

On alternating Fridays I blog about the final activity of our current theme 

 

This week’s Theme:Dinosaurs

Activity Description: Make a shadow box puppet theater

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Language, creative, cognitive, fine motor, gross motor, social, emotional

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 2 years + 5 months

 

  • Make your shadow box puppet theater (Find a medium sized box to use)

1.   Use a box cutter knife to cut out the front and back of your box but leave a boarder so that your box will retain its structural integrity. (Our box already had one side removed, so we only cut out the front).  Also if you desire you could cut out the sides too, to see the shadows from different angles.

Cut a large rectangle out of your box

Cut a large rectangle out of your box

O & M decided to get their toy tools to help Daddy cut the box

O & M decided to get toy tools to help cut the box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O & M remove the cut rectangle

O & M remove the cut rectangle

2.  Use lightly coloured poster paper to cover the hole.  Measure, cut, and secure with tape (ensure there are no wrinkles or holes in the paper)

Measure out your paper and cut

Measure out your paper and cut

Cover the hole with paper and tape it down to secure it.

Cover the hole with paper & use tape to secure it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Puppets – You can make puppets and place them onto a popsicle stick or straw, or you can gather figurines and tape a stick or straw to them.
  • Play! – Find a darkened area, use a flash light or similar to shine into your shadow box puppet theater and have fun making & watching little scenarios.
Gather figurines (puppets) and shine a flash light to create shadows

Gather figurines (puppets) and shine a flash light to create shadows

 

Have a great weekend, we’ll see you on Monday with a new theme and lots more fun learning!

Exploring Light & Shadows: A Reggio Provocation

‘In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.’ – Aaron Rose  (just ask a child).  If you haven’t already noticed, light and shadows are simply magical to children.  Perhaps this is why the Reggio Emilia approach greatly values using light as a material or ‘language’ to help support active investigation & discovery.  Today’s post is a simple example of how to provoke a child’s curiosity by using light.  I hope it inspires you to try this Reggio provocation with the children you love.

P.S.  The girls switched shirts half-way through the initial provocation so it’s possible that I have made a couple of errors in identity!

 

On alternating Wednesdays I blog about a Reggio Emilia Provocation

 

This week’s Theme: Dinosaurs

Description of Provocation: Exploring Light & Shadows: Provide flash lights, dinosaur figurines, crayons, wall mounted blank paper

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 2 years+ 5 months

 

Initial Topic (Observe and question your tot about a topic of interest)

  • The girls have shown a significant amount of interest in shadows lately.  As we’ve been going on walks they’ve been experimenting with their own shadows and have been waving sticks around and tossing rocks to try to track shadows as they move.

Materials (This can include anything)

  • For the light component, I chose flash lights
  • For the shadow component I chose dinosaur figurines because that is what we’ve been learning about.
  • I also included crayons and wall mounted paper.

Set-Up (This should be visually appealing and intriguing)

  • Where?:  I chose a space with little natural light (the darker, the better)
  • Workspace: I defined the workspace using green painter’s tape to outline the drawing space.  I placed a piece of slate as a platform for the dinosaurs.
  • Display:  I displayed the dinosaur figurines, flash lights & crayons on two levels to make it more visually appealing.
Display with the lights on

Display with the lights on

Display with the lights off and shining a flash light

Display with the lights off and shining a flash light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Observation (Observe your tot interacting with the provocation you have set up.  Remember not to interfere or ‘teach’.  If you stay out of the way, you will be pleasantly surprised!)

  • What was interesting?  Manipulating the flash lights was the girls’ main interest.
  • What was asked? Can you turn off more lights?  Can you make it darker?
  • What was said? Some noteworthy statements were: “I’m finding a treasure”, “I can’t find my shadow”, “Shadow is bigger now”
  • What was done? There were three main areas of interest. (see below)

#1 – Experimentation with shadows and drawing – I had the display set up in the dark with the flash light shining so when they came upon it, they immediately showed interest in the shadow.  I showed them how we could trace the shadows.

O shines the light close to the dino

O shines the light close to the dino

O shines the light from a distance (the sun was bright)

O shines the light from a distance (the sun was bright)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O experiments with two dinos

O experiments with two dinos

O attempts to create moving shadows.  She manipulates the dinosaurs (finding food) in front of the light. (Unfortunately the light wasn't shining in the right direction.

O attempts to create moving shadows. She manipulates the dinosaurs (finding food) in front of the light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mommy traces the shadow

Mommy traces the shadow

Mommy traces again.

Mommy traces again (at their request)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M wants to try tracing

M wants to try tracing

O shines the light on M so she can experiment with her arm's shadow.

O shines the light on M so she can experiment with her arm’s shadow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2 – Experimentation with light – This included shining the light on different surfaces, waving it around to try to follow it, attempting to illuminate darker spaces, etc.

O observes the light

O observes the light

O holds the light against the ground and lets the light peak out

O holds the light against the ground and lets the light peak out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M dangles the light and watches it move across the floor

M dangles the light and watches it move across the floor

Next, she places a dinosaur there to see what happens

Next, she places a dinosaur there to see what happens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M shines the light in my boot

M shines the light in my boot

O goes under the table to dry to get in a darker space

O goes under the table looking for a darker space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M was shining the light through the holes in the laundry basket

M was shining the light through the holes in the laundry basket

 

#3 – Imaginary play – Using the flash light to go on a treasure hunt (I didn’t get any good pictures of that part)

 

Extension (Based on your observations, add new materials as needed)

  • New Materials: The new materials were a total lack of light & a discussion about palaeontologists.  Because the bulk of their excitement revolved around manipulating the flash light, wanting it to be darker and pretending to go on a treasure hunt, I decided to set up a palaeontological exploration (at night time, of course!)
  • What Transpired?:  When it got dark, I hid dinosaurs around our home.  We talked again about what a palaeontologist is and played a game of ‘hot and cold’ in the dark, using the flash light to find the dinos.  THEY LOVED IT! (oh, and my camera battery died!)
Searching under a bed

Searching under a bed

We found one!!!

We found one!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our culminating activity this Friday will be creating a shadow puppet theatre for our dino figurines.  This will be a great extension to O’s idea of trying to create moving shadows.  She really wanted to play with the dinos and watch their shadows move as she did so.  She adjusted the light a couple of times but wasn’t able to achieve the desired effect, so this will be right up her alley!  We hope to see you then!

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Handprint-a-saurus

Handprint art is a really great activity because it uses minimal supplies, doesn’t take long to do and creates a lasting image of your tot’s precious hands!  If you search on-line for “handprint art” you will find hundreds of options that can fit any theme or occasion.  Whenever you do handprint art, be sure to write the date on the back (or age of your tot) for future reference.  Happy handprinting!!

Here’s one activity we did today from the Leaping Lilies curriculum

 This week’s Theme: Dinosaurs

Activity DescriptionHandprints Art (Sensory):  Make a dinosaur from your tot’s handprint (fingers are legs, palm is body, thumb is the neck & head) draw/paint on a face, claws, tail.  Embellish if desired.  Name the dinosaur [child’s name]asaurus.  (Ex.  Andrewasaurus, Monicasaurus)

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Creative Skills

Specific Skill: Making a craft

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 2 years + 5 months

 

  • Preparation

– I showed the girls some images on the computer of the craft we were going to make

– I asked them to decide which art supplies we would need (click here to see a list of great craft supplies)

– They helped me get the supplies and get set up

 

  • Handprints (Step one)

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  • Adding Body parts (Step two)

-I did this part since the girls are not yet able

Mommy adds faces, claws & tails

Mommy adds faces, claws & tails

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Embellishing (Step three)

-We used finger prints as spikes.  You could also use stickers or paint or draw on horns, spikes, etc.

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**** They loved this so much that I gave them another paper to continue.  It’s not related to dinosaurs or this project but I thought they were beautiful and I loved the titles they gave them so I thought I’d share:

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Polkadots, by M & Storm Clouds by O

 

 

  • Name your dino! (Step four)

– I explained that one of their dinos would be named “[their name]asaurus”.  And that they could name the other one “[whatever they wanted]asaurus”

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Click here to see another post about preserving your tot’s little handprints!

 

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Toy Rotation

Are you tired of cleaning up a zillion toys each day?  Tired of surrounding your tot with those zillion toys only to find there is little that arouses a sustained amount of interest?  Tired of buying a zillion more toys to entertain your tot?  I have a solution!  Really!  The solution to this dilemma is something I get asked about quite regularly so I thought I would repost this blog entry from March 11, 2014 (with some amendments).

On alternating Fridays, I blog about parent/teacher

hot topics & interesting info or Q&A

 

Today’s Topic: How toy rotation and changing our physical environment can benefit learning.

“Change can open our minds to new ways of viewing ourselves and our relationship to the world, and renew our pleasure in living.”  – Tarthang Tulku, Knowledge of Freedom

 

1. On toy rotation :

A lot has been written about this so I will not overwhelm you with fine details but I will write from my experience, the benefits of toy rotation and also how I approach toy rotation.

The benefits are many, here are a few:

  • Less clean-up
  • More engaged play with toys –> mastery of toys –> inventive use of toys
  • Toys retain excitement –> less boredom with toys –> less need to buy more new toys

When & what I rotate:  I do a toy rotation every two weeks and this coincides with the changing of our activity plan (visit our shop to view our curricula).  I choose toys that specifically relate to the topic we are learning, plus I have 8 staple categories I always include.  Our toys are available in bins.  We have 12 bins.

  1. Building toys (blocks, mega-lego, etc)
  2. Imaginary play (toy cars, figurines, puppets, dress-up, etc.)
  3. Problem solving toys I (puzzles, lacing, sorters, stackers, etc.)
  4. Problem solving toys II(puzzles, lacing, sorters, stackers, etc.)
  5. Sensory toys (balls, crinkly toys, squishy toys, play dough, etc.)
  6. Books
  7. Music toys
  8. Cause and effect toys (we have a few we really like: Peek-a-Shoe, Pound n Pop Carnival Elephant, Pop n Pals)
  9. Specific to topic and activity plan
  10. Specific to topic and activity plan
  11. Specific to topic and activity plan
  12. Specific to topic and activity plan
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Our main play area

In the picture above, our weekly topic was colours so the four “specific to topic and activity plan” bins were one for each colour.

Since we first posted this we have added two new play areas: As children grow older, dramatic & imaginary play become a central part of playing (it becomes more and more complex and developed) .  To accommodate this growth in our children, we added a play kitchen area and a dress-up area.

Our play kitchen

Our play kitchen

Our dress-up area

Our dress-up area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Also, since our girls have grown older, we do the toy rotation together. I get their input on which toys they would like to have out for the next two weeks.  I give the guidelines, such as building toys, then I let them choose which building toys.  Whenever it’s time to ‘change the toys’, they get really excited.)

 

2. On toy storage: I think it goes without saying, that if you’re not going to have all of your toys available in your play area, you need a place to put the toys that aren’t being used.

Tips:

* Store toys in an area that your tot doesn’t have access to

Toy closet with child proof door knob

Toy closet with child proof door knob

*Ensure you have easy access to them (so that toy rotation is not a major ordeal)

I can get any toy with minimal effort

I can get any toy with minimal effort

*Ensure they are organised (so they are easy to find)

Chalk board toy organizers

Chalk board toy organizers

*If you feel you have no use for them any more, donate toys that are too immature for your tot’s age

 

3. On changing the physical environment:

This can range from changing the layout of furniture in a room to the actual décor in a room and in a classroom; the seating plan.  When possible/suitable, change the actual location of the learning environment such as going outside or to a gymnasium.

 

4. Why is change so beneficial for learning?

It’s not something that is easy for me to describe but I will do my best to be concise and not blabber on.  Weather we are people who like change or not, it is undeniable the everything inside and outside of us is constantly changing.  Embracing this simple principle can help us to lead less fearful and more fulfilling lives.  Offering change to your students and children, if nothing else, will bring about a certain amount of comfort and acceptance of change.  However, there are many more benefits.  Change brings with it, a lot of energy, momentum and creativity.  It can bring about excitement and stimulation as a result of the unknown or “newness” of something (it’s not stagnant).  Once a person begins to recognize the energy of change, it is possible for them to harness that energy and use it to achieve things they never thought possible……….

…………………….I would suggest that this possibility begins with you offering the gift of change in the first place (even if it’s as simple as changing a seating plan, toy rotation, or hanging new pictures on the wall).

The Egg Between Us

Some days, despite all my best efforts, these two little angels just argue, argue, argue!  (Which often turns into screaming, screaming, screaming and whining, crying, whining!)  Sound familiar?  When times are tense with them, I am sure to include cooperative activities into our day.  It really helps!  It helps in the short-term (turning those screams and tears into smiles and giggles) and I know in the long-run these kinds of activities will help them navigate their relationship as sisters as well as their relationships with others.

Here’s one activity we did today from the Leaping Lilies curriculum

 This week’s Theme: Dinosaurs

Activity DescriptionSave the Egg!:  Tape out a start and finish line.  2 people stand side to side (2 children or you and your tot).  Place a ball/balloon (the dinosaur egg) between you (no hands allowed!). Walk to the finish line without dropping (breaking) the egg!

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Social Learning

Specific Skill: Use cooperation to complete a task

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 2 years + 5 months

 

  • Introduction: (To begin we read a story)
By Ian Beck

By Ian Beck

 

  • Give an Example: (Mr. Y was home so Mommy and Daddy demonstrated)

– You can get two children to demonstrate (for a group)

– You can demonstrate with a child (for a group)

– If it’s just you and one child, do one slowly together holding the dinosaur egg (balloon), then do it a second time without hands!

 

  • Try It!: (The girls suggested that we try different body parts – great idea!)

 

We had a lot of fun with this, it relieved the tension between them and there was a lot of giggling and smiles…. which was a breath of fresh air!

Trying the bum-to-bum again!

Trying the bum-to-bum again!

Love M's face and stance!

These two crack me up!

 

 

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