In which Miss Molly plays with shadows.

It’s summer time at the library! School is out, the weather is hot, and the library is the coolest place to be…not only because we have a.c. but because of the awesome programs we have happening on a daily basis.

I had my first solo program of the summer a few Tuesdays ago; it was a science program for 5-7 year olds which I called Fizz, Whiz, Bang!

As you know, I do science programs with the older kids, and it is so much fun. I always get asked by parents if I will do anything for the younger ones. I thought summer would be the perfect time to do something for them. Get their little minds going.

I decided that we would focus on the science behind shadows!

Science is a hot topic, especially with the parents of younger children who want them to get ahead as much as possible. Parents were excited about the program; the kids could have gone either way. I didn’t want this program to be a chore; I wanted it to be fun.

When I told parents that the program would focus on shadows, they looked at me like I was a crazy person. Ah, well. I knew what I wanted to do, and I would do it, gosh darn it!

I always remember reading and watching Peter Pan and wishing that my shadow was as mischievous as Peter’s, thinking about all the fun we would have. I wanted to capture that spirit with the kids.

I had 15 kids signed up for the program, but only 12 showed up. Of the 12, they were relatively evenly split between the ages, if not leaning more toward the older side.

We started off by talking about what shadows are and how they come about.

Asking the kids questions, I found out how much they already knew about shadows–which was a surprising amount! This was good and bad, but mostly good. I was a little worried that they would find the program boring if I had to teach it, but then I also go worried that they would be bored because they knew everything! They knew a lot of the set up answers. But, that just meant we could have actual discussions and delve deeper into the shadow topic, which was great!

We talked about the Sun and the Earth, the tilt and angle which brings about the different heights of the sun and therefore the lengths of shadows depending on time of day and time of year.

Next we read Bear Shadow by Frank Asch. This story is all about a bear who is trying to escape his shadow. He tries running away from it, hiding from it, nailing it to the ground, and even burying it. While I read, I asked the kids what they thought would work, and why. It was a very lively discussion.

After the book, I showed them a video about people who do performances with shadows. They LOVED it. I had only planned on showing them about 2 minutes, but they wanted to watch the entire video. As the performers created different shapes, I had the kids call out what those shapes were. Check out the video below.

After that, I turned on the projector, and we played around with colored objects and their shadows. We used colanders, spatulas, bowls, bubble wrap, and other weird things to produce shadows and talked about why things looked the way they did.

For our final activity, I had each child make their own shadow box. We used lidded plastic containers which I had cut a hole out of the lid so they could fit a flashlight into it. Each child’s box was different, and they all produced different shadows. Check out the tutorial from  Paint on the Ceiling

The program was so much fun. I really wish I could do science programs with the bigguns and the littleuns all the time. I think for my one-off programs throughout this year, I am going to try to do more science with the little kids. That is my goal, unless I really come up with an idea I just HAVE to try.

Stay tuned for more fun from library-land!

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