It seems impossible that we are in the waning days of summer, but so it is. So, this will be the last weekly “Family Fun” collection for now, as I go back to a focus on creativity in school settings. But Family Fun, has been way too much fun—really—to give up entirely, so for the school year I’ll move to a monthly family-focused blog at the beginning of each month. Of course, many of the school-focused activities are just as appropriate for home settings, so I hope all the parents will keep stopping by.
For our final summer-focused Family Fun blog, let’s think about sun and shadows.
1. Have you played shadow tag? It’s easy. Take one sunny day and one collection of energetic children. The goal of the game is for the child who is “it” to step on the shadow of one of the other players—who, of course, then becomes “it.” This is not only fun, but can be a great opportunity for problem solving as children figure out which way to run to keep their shadow away from others.
2. Try some experiments with sun and shadow. Young children can experiment to discover which items do and don’t cast shadows, a good chance to learn about the concepts of transparent and translucent, if you are so inclined. This also works inside with a flashlight, if the sun isn’t cooperating. Older children may experiment with measuring shadows at different times of the day. Mark where a tree’s shadow falls in the morning, at noon, and later in the day. Try more than one object. Is there a pattern?
3. Be a human clock! Find a sunny spot where your human clock markings are not likely to be disturbed. Mark the center of the clock so you know where to stand. Stand on the mark exactly on the hour and have a helpful parent or friend mark where your shadow falls, using a stick, a rock, or sidewalk chalk. Be sure to record the hour. Go back and do the same thing each hour until it becomes too dark to see the shadow. Go back the next day and stand in the center, then calculate what time it is. If you’d like to know how to make a much more permanent version for home or school, here are the directions.
4. How can we think about shadows without playing with shadow puppets? How long has it been since you tried making a rabbit shadow with your hands? If it has been a while, you may want to review with this video on basic hand shadow puppets or a much larger collection of easy-to-follow pictures There are a number of videos of hand shadow performances on YouTube, giving you an idea of what is possible. Here is one that will amaze you, in just one minute! Of course there is a long and amazing tradition of shadow puppets from Asia, made with hands, paper, and other materials. Those puppets are a bit complex for most beginners, but well worth exploring. If you’d like to try some basic paper shadow puppets, here is a website that will help you make a simple shadow puppet theater from a cereal box.
5. I’ve made sun tea, but have you ever tried sun lemonade? One recipe suggests cutting 4-6 lemons in half and putting them in a gallon of water, then letting them sit in the sun all day. You might want to mix or shake periodically, just to keep things interesting. Leave the container outside overnight, then squeeze the lemons into the water. Add sugar to taste and voilà, sun lemonade. Make some lemonade without leaving it in the sun and compare. Is there a difference? I want to buy some lemons and try it out ! I wonder what would happen if we tried something similar with another fruit?
- Try making sun prints. You can get light-sensitive paper from almost any hobby store and experiment with putting items on the paper for print-making. A less dramatic but still interesting version uses dark construction paper. Try putting items on top of the paper and leaving it in the sun all day—or a few days in a dry area. See if the paper fades around the objects.
- Sun is often used to represent happiness. Sing “You are My Sunshine.” Make up new lyrics with something that represents happiness to you. I’d love to hear lyrics to anything from “You are my Mud Puddle” to “You are my Power Ranger.”
I hope you are enjoying these late summer days!