Light and Shadows

My son has always been interested in shadows. He always notices his own shadow and the shadows of other objects.  On Saturday night, after his bath, he ran over to his bed and began jumping on it. Then, he noticed his shadow. He jumped and danced for his shadow when he noticed that there were two of them! One shadow on one wall and another on the other wall. He held two fingers up while he jumped and danced in excitement. How cool is that for a 3 year old? I mean, I thought it was so cool and I’m 31!

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I was so excited about this experience that I decided to provoke Dylan with something extra. I brought in a slinky. A slinky’s shadow would be spectacular, wouldn’t it? I gave it to my son and he looked at me and smiled. Then, he held it in front of the wall to see if a slinky could have a shadow. It did. He moved it around, jumping along with it, making the slinky dance around. It was wonderful to watch.

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If you think about it, shadows are magical. They can appear at any time of the day and, to a child, it is usually an unexpected surprise. Then, once the shadow reveals itself, one is left with many questions. Where did this shadow come from? Why can it change size? Why are some shadows dark while others are light? How is it able to follow my movements? Saturday’s experience made me think of Peter Pan. Wouldn’t it be amazing if your shadow suddenly had it’s own ideas? I wish!

The Joy in Discovery…

Today, while I was making lunch, my son was exploring a bucket of water. I had given him these squeezable fish so that he could squeeze them, collect water inside the fish, and squeeze again to release the water. He loved that!

Then, he said “Mama, yook (look)!”

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There was something “fluttering” on the ceiling. He didn’t know where this came from. He looked into the bucket, then at the ceiling, and then outside. I asked him what it is and he said “Buh-ah-fwies (butterflies)”. What an incredible connection. The reflection of the water from the bucket appeared to be fluttering, perhaps two fluttering objects. Dylan thought about butterflies.

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He looked outside and pointed to something. Was he thinking the butterflies outside were making the reflection?

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Then, he looked into the bucket again and moved the fish around. He lifted one of the fish and squeeze the water into the bucket. He said something along the lines of “Mama, where butterfly go?” He looked back into the bucket and moved the water around. The reflection disappeared. In that moment, he realized the bucket was somehow responsible.

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This was a special (and unexpected) experience. It gives new meaning to “magic in the mundane”. Dylan was just playing with a set of plastic fish and a bucket filled with water. Mind you, that experience alone was something special to Dylan. Then, something unexpected happened. A unique fluttering object appeared on the ceiling. So many thoughts must have occurred in Dylan’s mind. What is this? Where did it come from? Can I touch it? Where will it go?

These types of explorations, where children question the possibility of something, are so essential. Dylan was wondering where this fluttering object came from and if it was even possible that something like that could occur. He was problem solving by trying to determine what the fluttering object was, what could have caused it, and where it went.

Lights and shadows, in particular, are wonderful provocations for children. Lights and shadows are magical, they, like the wind, are difficult to  explain. To a child, it is a magical occurrence. To an adult, it can be just as magical. When something is not so easily defined, it makes the process of wondering come natural. When Dylan encountered the fluttering objects, I too shared a sense of wonder with my son. That alone is something special, the process of wondering together.