Friday, February 27, 2015

The Big Deal About Shadows

The Forest Room children have been interested in shadows this winter. The garden is a lovely place to see them: it might be cold outside but the sun shines brightly and shadows are hard to miss.

The children discovered they could hide their shadows by standing in the shadow of a teacher. They do this over and over on sunny days. Why? What are they thinking? Might children, who have limited control over their lives, find satisfaction when they have power over the location of their shadows? What properties of light and dark, of their ability to manipulate their bodies within the environment, are they internalizing as they play with shadows?

A child observes how her shadow changes as she crouches...

... and stands.
 There are always many questions to ask when children are exploring a new idea.

What is important about shadows? What is the big idea underlying their fascination? We teachers are constantly listening and observing to learn the intent behind children's interests, and to help the children delve further into their investigations.

"Look! My shadow disappeared!"
It just so happened that I stumbled across this sentence in my recent reading: "Light, or some aspect of it (rainbows, reflection, shadow, transparency, color), seems to compel children's intellects--is it part of "Invisibility" as Big Idea?"-Pam Oken-Wright and Marty Gravett, Teaching and Learning: Collaborative Exploration of the Reggio Emilia Approach.

What do children know and think about invisibility? What is it about light in all its aspects that is so appealing?

We continue to explore shadows, and daily discover something new. Their shadows are so beautiful.

Shadows can even grow out of the top of a teacher's head.

Can shadows touch each other even though the people are not touching?
What is meaningful for the children about shadows? We brainstorm ways to help the children explore this idea. Can we find ways to mark how shadows move as time passes?  Can we find shadows of other objects in the garden? Perhaps we might learn more about shadows through our exploration of light in the light studio and in the classroom. We continue to carry our camera with us, delighting in the children's daily discoveries, in our communal, never-ending quest to learn more.