"I'm right there! There's me!" Those are the words my son exclaimed as a toddler when he had just discovered his shadow was a mirror image of himself. Making this connection is an important step in a child's life. It shows the ability to distinguish connections between two objects. In this case, he is connecting his shadow to himself. Whether your child has made this distinction or not, it is important to help this discovery along. As an experienced mother, homeschooler, and care provider, I have had plenty of experience as well as study in this subject and others pertaining to childhood development. Below you will see activities for both toddlers who have already discovered their shadows, as well as those who have not. Any of the activities can be done with either group of toddlers. If the lighting is right outdoors, you may do these activities outdoors. If not, just get near a bright light or lamp in the house.
Perhaps the most common shadow game is making shadow puppets from your hands and reflecting them onto the wall or sidewalk. Toddler favorites usually include a bunny, a dinosaur, a dog, a cat, and even people. Draw on your child's interests and be creative. For some toddlers, it may only take the easy talking mouth to entertain them. But, whatever you do, be sure to expose them to a variety of interesting characters and shapes. Depending on your child's coordination and attention span, you may be able to teach him or her how to do these on their own. That's where the game gets even more fun.
When I Move, He Moves, Too!
For this one, all you need to do is show your child that your shadow moves with you. Have the child move as well, showing the child that their own shadow will move when they move as well. Keep the game going by doing funny things and focusing on what the shadow does, too. Some toddlers will play this game for a long time, others will only last for a few minutes. Try to keep it interesting enough to last around 5 to 10 minutes.
In this game you guess it, you'll focus on doing things that make the shadow shorter and taller. You can crouch down and come back up for one idea. Another way to do this is that sometimes when you back up, the shadow grows taller. Doing the reverse will make it shorter again. Experiment with your toddler, remembering to explain about tall and short.
This is similar to taller/shorter, except that with this one, you'll do what you can make the shadow wider and larger. If you are doing it inside, drawing yourself away from the wall and towards the wall can produce results with this. If you're outside, it's a matter of where and how the sun is shining,so experiment to find out what works.
In this activity, you will actually put on a shadow puppet show for the child. It would be like a puppet show, except with shadows instead. To make it even better, all lights can be turned out and the show presenter can get behind a large screen, consisting of a white or light colored sheet. The light source should be coming from behind the screen. Just put on the show like you normally would on the wall, except your hands won't be in the way of the shadow. Be creative and make sure the characters talk and interact with one another.
Favorite Story In Shadow
This is very similar to the shadow show, except you will be actually reading and acting out your child's favorite story. You may need a page turner behind the screen for you, unless you have memorized the story.
Note to parents: The toddler age is an important age of discovery. Doing activities such as those listed above can help your child develop important discovery and learning skills. Be sure to practice discovery and learning skills each day through play and interaction.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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