‘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 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 from a distance (the sun was bright)
O experiments with two dinos
O attempts to create moving shadows. She manipulates the dinosaurs (finding food) in front of the light.
Mommy traces the shadow
Mommy traces again (at their request)
M wants to try tracing
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 holds the light against the ground and lets the light peak out
M dangles the light and watches it move across the floor
Next, she places a dinosaur there to see what happens
M shines the light in my boot
O goes under the table looking for a darker space
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
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!