Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Shadow Theatre in Action

Having realised that I had jumped the gun somewhat by making the shadow theatre with the children on Monday without having properly introduced them to shadows the shadow theatre was put to the side and neglected for the week as I prepared some puppets to use as I told the story of Room on the Broom. I chose this story as they are already very familiar with it and have been playing theatre with the characters for each other already - it seemed the obvious choice...

So we moved our morning meeting into a room that we could darken, the children were all sat waiting and the story began. Judging by the quietness on the other side of the screen the children were obviously intrigued - and as soon as I finished the story and asked if anyone else wanted a go there was a whole forest of hands that couldn't stretch high enough to show their eagerness - and waiting for a turn (as they got to do it in pairs) was not easy either - the NEED to try this out was HUGE and the body was barely able to contain itself.

Some of the children were able to tell both a story and move the puppets around so that we could see, some were completely quiet, except for some soft roaring, others could not quite work out how to make a shadow and moved the puppets around behind the screen and lamp while telling a story...

I could see directly how great this was for language development, for inspiring the imagination, for science exploration about shadows, social development - yes, I was sitting there watching the shows smiling and seeing more and more of the curriculum that could be covered by the shadow theatre...

In the afternoon there was great interest in playing with the shadow theatre again - and we went back to where it was set up and performed for each other again - this time I helped the children who were not making shadows so they could see the difference between playing with the puppets and moving them in front of the lamp to make a shadow.

I used a small Ikea reading lamp that can be clipped onto the table (or shelves or whatever) - it worked fine (but I have to admit that I did take it from my son's bedroom, but as he is sleeping in my bed - as my husband is away in Brazil attending a sleep conference and Michael is excellent on maximising snuggle opportunities - I don't think he will notice for the next 10 days!!). One of the children did have her face close to the lamp at one time and realised that it was warm - and of course developed a healthy respect for the lamp at the same time.

Later we made some more puppets - a few more for the Room on the Broom story, as well as some from Gruffalo - the children also started making their own. This was not so easy for some of the children as their need to play with the pen on the paper exceeds their desire to create a puppet - but it DID give us time to TALK about purposeful drawing, and it also inspired one child to take the leopard figure and draw that, and her observations in the drawing were wonderful, especially as this was her first attempt (her choice of colours were spot on).

As the children cut out their drawing they went off to test them at the shadow theatre. Their drawing and cutting inspired others and many toddlers were busy at the tables drawing and cutting with great concentration. It's really wonderful to see how infectious learning is through play...

building the shadow theatre last Monday - there IS a post about this too!

sometimes a head became a part of the performance

the puppets are without sticks - it makes them quite easy to handle, BUT it does mean we see a lot of body parts... I do feel though that the power of imagination will be strong enough not to see the hands etc and just focus on the figures - if it does get to a point where the children start to notice then I will be able to challenge their problem solving and ask what we could do...

experimenting with the puppets and different distances - close to the screen, close to the lamp, just off centre... etc - The shadows were always changing...

experimenting with the colour of the card - and also the frame of the shadow theatre allowed you to slightly post a puppet and let it stand (or hang) there while other puppets could be moved. ALSO different thickness of paper was used - lucky for us the ghost was drawn on thinner paper which made it more spooky! I am itching to start cutting out eyes, using tissue paper and cellafane to see how the children react and develop the puppets over time...

a leopard - a first attempt at drawing from a model - the child gave me a funny look when I suggested she should give it a try - she REALLY studied the leopard before starting

can't wait to see the stories that will come - this was  GREAT way for language development/support as well as an imagination fuel injection. The theatre took 20 minutes to build - and it was the best 20 minutes spent ever spent - as I can see hours of play, learning and imagination in front of us - think I better put a pen and notebook near the theatre to document the stories!!

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