30. Light and Shadow

Human beings, especially children, are drawn to light. The way it changes colour and creates shadows, emphasises shape and form can be mesmerising. Playing with light and shadow can help children create new ideas, ask questions and test theories. It’s also a good way to develop focus and concentration, that sense of being lost in something.

The idea behind light and shadow play is to build an understanding of where light comes from, and show children that it’s possible to mix light like you can paint. Experiment with light and colour by measuring your shadows or making shapes on the wall at bedtime. Or cover two torches with differently-coloured plastic and see what happens when you shine both beams on the same spot.

A lightbox is a lovely, soft and safe way to play with light. You don’t need to buy an expensive new one, either. A clear plastic storage box, filled with fairy lights, is a very effective alternative. Tape some tracing paper or baking parchment on the underside of the lid to diffuse the light for a more even effect. Experiment with differently-coloured translucent plastic shapes, such as magna-tiles, and enjoy the effect they create.

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