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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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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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Language Development That’s Beyond Comparisson

Remember that Sesame Street song, “One of these things is not like the other, some of these things are kind of the same….”?  Why was it a staple part of the program?  Because….being able to identify & express similarities and differences has much bigger implications than may appear.  This skill helps to strengthen memory, develop higher-order thinking skills, increase comprehension and helps promote thinking & communicating with clarity and precision.  Also as children grow, being able to compare and contrast will enhance their writing skills.  Today’s post provides and example of how to begin developing this skill with your toddler.

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

 This week’s Theme: Dinosaurs

Activity DescriptionLet’s Talk: Use dinosaur figurines to engage your tot in conversation.  Encourage your tot to articulate the similarities and differences between the dinosaurs.

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Language Development

Specific Skill: Compare and contrast

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

 

  • Vocabulary (Review some vocabulary before-hand)

– Review vocabulary that is specific to dinosaurs.  We did spikes, horns, claws, scary, friendly.

– Review ‘same’ and ‘different’.

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  • Provide an Example (Show your tot how to compare and contrast)

– Modelling (meaning you do it first) is a good way to give an example.

– Doing one together can provide a guided example (they have help vs. doing it independently).  This is what we did (see video below)

 

 

  • Try it Independently (Encourage your tot to discuss the similarities and differences on his/her own)

– Gently correct mistakes and remind them of vocabulary. For example, if your to says the wrong colour or says something is the same when it really is different, you would just quickly review what the words mean.

– If your tot needs assistance, you can give clues.  Ex. (“I see this one has big sharp teeth.  Does that one have the same teeth?”)

– Let your tot choose the dinosaurs he/she would like to talk about.

 

Here are the girls’ attempts at comparing and contrasting independently.  It was fairly challenging for them so I gave them assistance (usually in the form of a question).

In case you can’t understand M in the video below: To contrast she notes the colours.  To compare she says they are both dinosaurs, they are both scary (and one is not happy).

 

This video starts out with M asking O which one she likes.   In case you can’t understand O in the video below: To compare she says they have long teeth, long arms and long claws.  To contrast she notes the colours.

 

The girls already compare and contrast things often when it is in relation to their life such as, “that girl has the same colour coat as me”, etc.  This also occurs frequently when reading books – click here to see a post about making connections between storybooks and self.  This idea of comparing/contrasting two things to each other vs. comparing/contrasting themselves with something is new and will continue to improve with practice.

Click here to see language development posts for 15-18 months

Click here to see language development posts for 18-24 months