Apr 10, 2013

WonderWorks: Shadows


Exploring the dark side of science....

Today's Topic: Shadows
lamps (with CFL or LED bulbs!)
white flat bedsheet
Shadow puppet theater (can be made by stretching white fabric over an empty picture frame or in a doorway or find instructions here or here or this fancy one here)
Dark construction paper
Plastic drinking straws or wooden skewers
Large roll of white paper or sidewalk chalk
pencils, markers, scissors

  cover art Follow it! Learn about shadows / Hall, Pamela

cover art Moonbear's shadow / Asch, Frank

cover art Night time! [sound recording] / Zanes, Dan
We also watched:

Shadow Puppets from Olive Us on Vimeo.

 What Kids Do: 
--play with moving the light source high and low
-- trace around shadows
 trace onto whiteboards
 or paper (using a keychain light when our lamps burned out!)
 --tried to sit for a silhouette...
 --(her mom held her head still)

 --made hand shadows
-- played with a shadow puppet theater (our "little old lady who swallowed a fly" images are from Storytelling Magic by Susan Pagnucci.  Many free patterns can be downloaded online (here's some sea creatures) or just create your own designs!)

Hindsight Tips:  
-- Make sure you use cool-touch light bulbs.  Unfortunately, one child got burned fingers on the shop light I'd brought in. (Also, dust your shop lights.  Burned spiderwebs are stinky.  Just sayin'.)
--If you're going to try to do classic silhouettes, have something interesting for the kids to watch so that they'll hold their heads still.  It's really hard to not want to look at the drawing your mom is making right beside your head!  This particular activity ended up being more active for the parents.  If you want to make it more kid-action-focused, have them draw the silhouettes of blocks or other interesting objects that DON'T MOVE.
--clip-on lamps might have been useful for some of the stations.
--the shadow puppets were a huge hit, have multiple stations available if possible and have supplies available for them to make their own shapes and add sticks to them.  Shadow puppets can also be used with the same set-up as the hand shadows.
--There was something a little extra wild about having a program in the dark.  I was not anticipating how much it would affect the mood of the class, but it definitely affected the kids.  Just be prepared for that.

 Variations to try: 
--If it's a sunny day (ours was, sadly, NOT sunny) definitely go outside and have kids trace their shadow on the ground in sidewalk chalk and then lie down and trace around their bodies and see how different the sizes and shapes are.
--This "torch shadow box" idea would have worked great if I'd been able to collect the supplies beforehand.

Related Apps: There are lots of apps about hand shadows.  My favorite free ones are: Shadow Puppets by JP Apps and Hand Shadow Lite! by zhong zhang (this one allows you to use the light on your phone in-app)
edited to add another app about shadow shapes:  Zoo Abracadabra by Pop App Factory

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