Exploring different areas of sensory play is just as rewarding for the childcarer as it is for the children. As I research ideas each month, I am amazed at the wealth of ideas and creativity that is available to create fascinating environments for play. This month, I have chosen the theme of light and dark – prompted by walking past a small child who was fascinated by her shadow.
Step into the light
Sensory play tables are often used for tactile play, but the visual stimulation that can be created using light should not be overlooked as an alternative. I mentioned shadows above; children love to watch their shadow dancing around the playground. Something so simple can be turned into a great game of ‘What animal am I?’ or simply a conga line of shadows.
The use of a light-box is stimulating for children visually and can easily be made with string lights and a plastic storage box – tracing paper, coloured discs, tissue paper, flower petals and cut out tangram shapes will allow children to experiment with light, colour and silhouette. Mirrors can be lots of fun in the sun and are a great tool for demonstrating how light can be reflected at different angles.
A colourful world
Creating a rainbow is always a favourite experiment and simply needs a sunny day, a glass of water and white paper to capture those rays of colour. Blowing bubbles is another excellent way to show how light diffuses through materials – if the children can resist popping the bubbles long enough to look at the light shining through them! Creating your own ‘stained glass window’ or sun catcher design is a special way to show children the wonder of light. Create colourful collages in laminating pouches or simply stick the tissue paper to a sheet of plastic, create a border and hang in a sunny window.
The dark side
There are numerous light-up products on the market from balls, disco lights to glow in the dark putty, which are all delightful and fun in a home-made dark den! Use black paper, pin hole star constellations and a light-box to show children the starry night sky, then help them to create their own pin-hole patterns. A backlit sheet is a fascinating way to make the children’s animal artwork come alive in a silhouette puppet show or even to demonstrate their hands becoming butterflies, crocodiles or dinosaurs and how the size of these creatures change as we move to and from the light source. Have fun playing!
About the author
Lisa Lane launched Sensory Scenes in 2014 with the aim to provide themed bags of fun for play, exploring and learning. With three boys of her own, she is passionate about children being able to manipulate, explore and use their imagination. Sensory Scenes’ themed bags are perfect for individual play, sensory tray play and themed subject planning.