This tinkering exploration allows for many different playful hands-on activities, ranging from a quick shadow hunt and drawing session to building your own shadow theater and creating a shadow play story over a couple of days.
Tinkerers, makers and educators around the world have been busy making and experimenting with light and shadows and sharing their ideas, projects and questions with hashtag #LightUpOurDays on social media. Everyone brings a unique personal interests, culture, materials and physical space we call home to these explorations. The wide range of projects that everyone has been contributing is a celebration of this diversity of approaches and interests. Here is a selection of the ideas that emerged from playing with light and shadows at home over the past 8 weeks.
We are excited for you to join by posting a photo or video of interesting shadows you noticed, something you have created that involves light and shadow, or an experiment that you want others to comment on.
There are a myriad ways to engage as a learner with this topic and we hope you come up with your very own exploration. To get going, here are three rich and engaging starter ideas.
What do YOU see? - A shadow of a basketball hoop alongside whimsical shadow remixes.
“Remix a shadow” is an invitation to take a photo of an evocative shadow, reimagine it by working it into a drawing, and invite friends to join the fun by sharing their own reimagined shadow photo on social media tagged with #LightUpOurDays.
This playful challenge was inspired by the amazing art of Vincent Bal (of “shadowology” fame).
We found that the simple provocation to observe an everyday phenomenon such as light and shadow and make personal meaning of what they see allows learners to engage with the topic following their own interests. Learners can quickly express and share their ideas through creating a drawing while exploring the fundamental and more intricate aspects of shadows and light along the way. We especially love when unique and surprising aspects of a shadow image get incorporated in a drawing as the investigation of a shadow deepens, such as turning the bright spots created by the holes in a kitchen colander into a solar system.
Most of all we are struck by how easy this generative and open ended prompt has made it for learners to jump into the exploration. Over just a couple of days we’ve seen more and more people on social media join, share their shady sketches and remix and comment on others. The shape of a shadow inspires ideas, drawing is quick and forgiving (especially on a digital device), and sharing and building on others' creations adds a collaborative aspect that allows to connect with people around the world over a meaningful project.
We always enjoy seeing educators tinker with and build on activity ideas and we are looking forward to seeing different flavors of this activity emerge as the community continues to adapt and re-invent it in their different settings. The game of generating many ideas from one shadow is as interesting as is inviting kids to make shadows with their bodies and hands and bring them to life by drawing on them, or arranging objects to create shadow silhouettes.
Light Play is a playful TinkeringAtHome activity which highlights the unusual shapes and patterns of light and shadow by inviting learners to weave them into a personally meaningful shadow story. It emphasizes the importance of “messing about” with the effects of light and shadow as a way to develop a stronger understanding of the phenomena.
To create your shadow scene on a screen or a surface, play with lights and objects that create shadows, reflect light, or allow light to pass through. Experiment with a flashlight, household items and toys you find around your house to create your scene. You can use a wall as a projection surface or create a custom light play theater using a cardboard box and thin paper.
A light and a few simple materials can turn a white wall into a magical light and shadow show.
An open ended theme that allows plenty of room for creativity can help to kick off the project. A group of educators took to making and sharing “shadow skylines”. This prompt opens the door to story telling and the materials such as bottles and cups and other household items can easily be found around the home.
Light play screens and materials can take many forms, a shoe box is a good start, LEGOS work too.
Inventing a theatrical story and narrating it can drive the investigation. Naturally design challenges emerge that deepen the shadow investigation and expand it by adding engineering practices.
For a detailed guide on how to create a light play including facilitator tips and instructions for creating a classroom set, take a look at our LightPlay PDF guide.
Create a light and shadow playground
A playful and inventive way of exploring light, shadows, reflections, and refraction with younger kids at home, light playground is also a great entry point to lead into making shadow theater stories as described in the Light Play section above.
To get started with your light and shadow playground indoors, gather materials as pictured on this illustration, or just go on a shadow hunt around your garden on a sunny day.
One of the tenets of the tinkering approach is to support all learners in following their own ideas so they can engage with the aspects of the phenomenon that excite them the most. Tinkering at home provides a perfect opportunity for learners to take agency and dive into their own unique investigation starting with toys, materials and set-ups that are familiar and personal. Sharing photos of the investigations online encourages reflection and can lead to new explorations when learners discover that their work is part of a bigger community and valued by their peers.
We are passionate about sharing our work and developing a community of people interested in these activities, practices, and ideas. The discussions, mutual inspiration and support that teachers and families have been engaging in on social media platforms around #LightUpOurDays has been fantastic, and the best way to get connected and join the community is to peruse #LightUpOurDays on Twitter and see the new ideas and remixes that keep popping up.
This project is a collaboration with Fablab Barcelona.