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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Shadow Puppet Show

Happy New Year! Thanks for coming back to read more about our family adventures in science. I am happy to report that we enjoyed the vacation holiday season in spite of a nasty stomach flu that rendered us housebound for both Christmas and New Years. Such is life with our germ-attracting little ones. To be totally honest, I feel responsible for bringing the plague to our family. In an effort to fill every moment of vacation week, I planned lots of events with the boys that involved cavorting in germ ridden locales, such as a jolly jumper play space, an indoor park at a fast food chain, and the play space at the mall. I know that many of you out there are groaning and wagging your fingers at me. I just wanted the boys to busy and really exhausted every night. Well, I got that and SO much more. I will spare you the details.
On to the brighter side of the holidays…
Among the many wonderful gifts the boys received was a Sid the Science Kid microphone. Leo enjoys running around proclaiming: “Science Kid in the HOUSE!” Adorable.
Today’s science discussion was about shadows. In the episode “Shadow Smile,” Sid sets out to discover why his shadow does not smile back at him. It is one of those episodes that gave me the correct academic language to back up what I instinctually know about shadows. While watching the show Henry and Leo joined in with the Sid gang as they pretended to be each other’s shadows. I was fascinated to watch them work together to take on the role of each other’s shadows. As usual, there was plenty of giggling.
The boys were really motivated by the activity from the episode: making shadow puppets. Our shadow puppet project lasted a full afternoon and employed aspects of science, art, fine motor skills, and lots of fun family time.
The first step was to make the puppets. Since I am not much of an artist, the boys and I used stencils of trucks for our puppets. The fish is freehand, as you can probably tell. Here are the boys hard at work:
I had to search around for paper that was hefty enough to hold the craft stick. I ended up using the back of a construction paper tablet.
The final products:
Then it was time to make shadows. We used our trusty headlamps as the light source and started the show. Leo and Henry understood right away that the colors from the puppets wouldn’t be visible. We spent more time experimenting with the distance between the puppet and the light source. The size of the image on the wall was directly related to how close or far the puppet was from the headlamp. We also had to practice keeping our bodies and hands out of the way so as not to block the light.
Here is what the show looked like:
The headlamp also has a red light that we used to make more discoveries. Henry made a prediction about the color of the shadow in the red light and he was correct! The shadow stays dark, no matter what color the light.
After the bulldozer and snowplow devoured the fish and rammed into each other a few times, Henry and Leo were ready to make their own hand shadow puppets. They talked a lot about the animals and how to manipulate their fingers. Here they are trying to figure it all out:
This one of those activities that I know we’ll come back to again and again. I really liked listening to my two boys talk together and make predictions as a team. They learned by trial and error while being totally entertained. I can’t wait for the next puppet show!
What kinds of activities inspire teamwork and collaboration with your kids? Are you noticing more science in your family activities?

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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