This isn’t really the right season for a light box activity, as you need it to be pretty dark. However, Jumbles is off preschool with a sick bug for the 3rd day running, and today it’s raining, so with the curtains shut we were able to get it dark enough to use the light box effectively, and I needed something that would keep him busy, as he doesn’t feel ill at all, so is just going a bit stir crazy. The book we used was “Can’t you sleep, Little Bear” which is a nice book about being afraid of the dark. However, you could use any book on the same subject, for example “The Owl who was afraid of the dark” (for older children really, though we do listen to an audiobook of it at bedtime) or no book at all if you just want to do the activity, to be honest, this is one of those where I wanted to do the acitivity anyway and then just looked for a book to link it to. We do have another book on the subject: “I want my light on” one of the “Little Princess” books. However, sadly that book has actually made Jumbles afraid of the dark and worried that ghosts are in his room! Step 1 – Make a lightbox, or buy one, but they are very expensive: I adapted these instructions from: The Imagination Tree. – Get a plastic box with a clear flat lid, ideally one with a slight lip on the edge to stop things sliding off. I used a “Really Useful” box which I had already, these are quite expensive unfortunately. – Stick greaseproof paper to the underside of the lid (this avoided me having to piece together sheets of tracing paper). – Line the sides with foil, to direct all of the light up and out of the top. – Inside the box place a set of christmas lights, you want white ones which are continually on, happily, these are generally the really cheap ones you can buy. I found that the cable was thin enough that it fitted out under the lid, without needing to drill any holes. Making the box hardly took any time at all, and I was fortunate enough to have everything I needed in the house already. I made it about a year ago (hence the slightly battered state of the foil inside, I store all of our “light play toys” in it (we have a few, light up windmills, an old “UFO” from my student days, flashing wristbands etc) plus our emergency blanket and some sparkly material. You can see, when I set up the lightbox, I always end up having to put the UFO out too, as Jumbles sees it and asks for it. Step 2 – Visit Poundland or similar Last week I was in there and spotted a set of plastic shotglasses in different colours and a set of coloured resuable “icecubes” – little cubes of soft plastic, filled with liquid, you stick them in the freezer and use in place of ice cubes in drinks. I knew these would be great for the lightbox. I wish I’d bought more cubes though. Hopefully they’ll still be in there if I go back, though I’ve noticed people selling them on ebay for £2. Basically collect things which are transparent coloured plastic. e.g. counters, magnetic letters etc. I kept it simple, giving them just the shot glasses and cubes, they spent nearly an hour, making towers, creating patterns, putting cubes in shot glasses etc. I did add our magnetic letters after a bit and a few pieces of coloured cellophane, but they just got in the way and weren’t being used, so I took them away again. Challenge for adults How big a cup pyramid can you make before your toddler knocks it down? I couldn’t get past the second storey. Though I did manage to make all of the cubes into a pyramid. There is something about building on the lightbox which is quite fun for kids and adults. I was also making Tetris patterns with the cubes. External links: Pictoral instructions for making Light box Buy “Can’t you sleep little Bear?” Borrow “Can’t you sleep little Bear?”
I thought since I’d done The Gruffalo, that it’d be nice to do the sequel too. The Gruffalo’s child is set in winter, so the obvious thing to do is snow play. Now, if it happens to be snowing for you, great, wrap up warm, go outside and do this, but if like me there is no sign of real snow, you’ll have to improvise.
Now, in the past I’ve used cotton wool as a fun, no mess “snow” but it’s not terribly realistic, and won’t work for what I have planned as we need to make impressions in the snow. So, you can buy fake snow online, or make your own, now here I planned to link to an online recipe, as I’m sure I’ve seen many, but my internet isn’t working, so I’m writing this offline, and I need to have the snow ready for when I pick up Jumbles from preschool, so I’m just going to have to wing it, so here is my snow recipe:
1. Leave freezer door slightly ajar overnight.
2. Come down in the morning to discover said door is open.
2a. (Optional) blame other half for not closing door properly.
3. Cook, throw out, or deem salvagable contents of freezer.
4. Scrape ice with a knife into a containter.
5. Freeze until needed
Estimated cost: 0-£1000 depending on how much food you have to throw away and whether you damage the freezer whilst scraping off the ice. Plus potential marriage counselling costs for repeated blame of other half for incidents such as this.
Alternatively, you could probably make ice cubes, and stick them in a blender. Or, if you don’t want to be quite so realistic and don’t want something that will melt, you can make snow by adding water to the stuff you find in disposable nappies (U.S diapers) see instructions (external link) I am not so keen on this method as although it’s non toxic, it’s still not edible, and Bean will try to eat it. Plus, I only use disposable nappies in emergencies, so don’t have many in stock.
Now I’m back online, I have checked and a fun way to make snow looks like mixing cornflour (U.S cornstarch) and shaving foam. Growing a Jeweled Rose.com has several snow recipes.
Part 1: snow play
Set up your snow in a tray on the floor.
Read through the book, pointing out the footprints and how each animal’s is different.
Allow free play with the snow.
Experiment making marks in the snow using different implements and toys.
While your child looks away, take a toy and make tracks in the snow, see if s/he can work out what toy made the tracks. take it in turns with your child to make tracks for the other to guess.
Jumbles played around making roads and trying to write letters, whilst Bean scooped it up lots.
Part 2: Light and Shadow
We left a big gap and did this when it was getting darker.
Point out the end of the story, where the Gruffalo’s child is fooled by the mouse’s shadow, talk about how shadows of objects can look different.
Close the curtains, turn off the lights and play with torches, making shadows using hands and objects. If you want, set up a sheet which you can go behind to make shadows and have the child guess what it is. We draped a sheet over the doorway of our cardboard house, my Godson, also 3, had come over by this point, the boys enjoyed playing with torches, then they went into the house and I held up toys outside in front of the torch for them to guess. Bean was not impressed with this section of the activity. (I had to turn the lights on for the photo).