julius jr. inventing time! shadow play

Help your kids explore shapes and stories with shadow puppets

Gather your kids and join us in the Invention Dimension! Julius Jr.'s Inventing Time activities give you simple ways to play with your kids that encourage their natural creativity!

Objects Needed to Create Your Invention

For the Screen
  • Flashlights
  • A darkish room--closet, bathroom, or room with covered windows
  • Blank wall, plain sheet, or white butcher paper for screen

    Items that can be used to cover the flashlights for changing the light and shadows
  • Plastic bottles
  • Wax paper
  • Berry basket
  • Colored plastic cups
  • Doilies or lace
  • Comb

    For the shadow puppets
  • Plain white thin paper plates
  • Scissors
  • Craft or popsicle sticks
  • Tape
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    Step Inside the Box with Julius Jr.!

    Ask your kids:
  • What is a shadow? Let's see what shadows we can make. (Turn on the flashlight and shine it at the wall or sheet and invite your child to put fingers and hands in front of the light.)
  • What happens if you move your hand away from the light? Or closer? What happens if you turn your hand?
  • Let's see what happens if we put this over our light (try one of the materials, e.g. was paper of lace). What happened to the light? What does your hand look like now?
  • What other things could make a shadow? (Try an empty plastic water bottle to get started.) What do you see?
  • How can we make some puppets to play in the shadow?
  • Repeat the open-ended questions after the kids have made their puppets.
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    Now to the Invention Dimension!

    There is no wrong way to make a shadow on the wall--any size, shape or version will teach your child cause and effect in this exploration. This type of exploration allows your child to experience what items block light and what happens when the light is blocked. Your child can cut simple shapes for the puppets from plates and attach sticks. He or she can add straws or pipe cleaners to add more depth and texture.

    What Your Little Ones Are Learning

    Your child will be delighted to play in the dark, and this will have a significant impact on stimulating his or her visual senses and promoting visual spatial learning. You are also laying the foundation for a basic science principle--understanding light and shadow. By continually introducing new ways to filter the light, your child will be forming and testing hypotheses, which is an important skill for science, critical thinking, and the creative process. Making puppets promotes fine motor skills with cutting (and shapes) and taping and creating his or her idea.

    Why "Inventing Time" Matters

    Creative thinking begins early in every child's life. It enables original thought and the ability to see solutions where others don't. It provides the fundamental building blocks for success in school and beyond. Creative play has been proven across multiple research studies to be the best path to developing a lifelong capacity for creativity.
    Julius Jr. and the Center for Childhood Creativity are working together to create inventing Time activities to help you support kids' natural creativity.

    Every kid can be an inventor like Julius Jr.
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