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To bring up a creative and active person, it is necessary to pay attention to the peculiarities of the child’s development from the first days of his or her life. It is known that the most important processes in the child’s development can be observed when he or she just a toddler. Toddler is a child in the age between one and three years, and it is the period of the most intensive cognitive, emotional, and social development of this little person who tries to know as much as possible about the world and his or her everyday surroundings.
It is significant to note that a toddler gains this knowledge while playing different kinds of games and developing any types of physical, emotional, and mental activities. Thus, the playing activity can be considered as the most important part of a toddler’s everyday life which contributes to his or her effective physical, social, cognitive, and emotional progress.
Shadow and light games are a kind of the toddler’s indoor and outdoor activities with the help of which parents and teachers have the opportunity to develop children’s abilities to communicate with each other, to develop their creative skills, to broaden their visions of the world and physical phenomena which are the part of their everyday life.
Shadow and light games can be considered as one the most successful ways to focus on children’s cognitive, social, and physical development with the help of the common things and natural phenomena. Thus, such indoor activities as Guess Shadows Play, Hand Shadow Figures, and Shadow Puppets can be discussed as the effective ways to concentrate on the development of a toddler’s imagination, creativity, and memory.
These games are necessary for the emotional and cognitive development of a child (Johnson et al., 2005). The effect of light and shadow can also be used for the physical and social development of a toddler. Such outdoor activities as Shadow Tag Play and Shadow Dancing require several participants for the game. That is why they are important for the development of communicative skills among children.
Guess Shadows Play
Guess Shadows Play is an indoor activity which can be successfully used by parents and teachers in order to play with one person or a group of toddlers with the help of the objects which surrounds children everywhere. This game is helpful for the development of children’s skills to recognition when the situation for it is changed (recognition of the objects according to their shadows).
To play this game, it is necessary to create a white screen for which a large white sheet can be used. It is required to attach this sheet in such a way to make a screen from the ceiling to the floor. The next step is choosing the objects used in the everyday life which can be recognized according to their silhouettes. Then it is necessary to switch off all the lights and use only one light source which should be put behind the screen.
The toddlers should be organized from the other side of the sheet in order they could have the opportunity to see the shadows of the objects which the adult holds in front of the light source. The children’s main task is to guess what objects are used for making this or that shadow. It is possible to use any number of objects and to determine the winner among those children who can guess the majority of the objects used.
Therefore, when adults use this play they have the opportunity to develop children’s ability not only to use their knowledge for the recognition of the items and develop their memory and cognitive skills but also to react in the situation of the competition with the other children ant to contribute to their social interaction (Johnson et al., 2005).
Hand Shadow Figures
Hand Shadow Figures is one of the most popular games among the children of different ages because of its easiness and the possibility to use creative thinking. This play is also effective for the development of a toddler’s abilities in thinking and imagination. The effect of the game depends on the way it is used by parents and teachers. Thus, children can be just entertained with the demonstration of hand shadow figures used as the part of the shadow theatre.
In this situation they can be passive participants of the game, and it can be considered as less effective for the children’s development. Toddlers can also be engaged in the play when they try to guess what figures are act from the other side of the screen. However, the most effective way to use hand shadow figures is to try to teach toddlers how to create the easiest variants using their own fingers.
Many toddlers use their fingers and hands for entertaining themselves when they are alone. They can examine them and make definite figures. It is the stage of their examining their bodies and physical appearance (Johnson et al., 2005).It is possible to use these toddlers’ inclinations in order to develop their creativity and imagination with the help of using light and shadow.
Children can be involved in the process of creating hand shadow figures in two steps. The first step focuses on the necessity to provoke toddlers’ interest in the activity. Adults can use a white screen made from a sheet and one light source in order to demonstrate to children definite figures (as a rule, figures of animals). Then it is possible to show them how they can make easy figures with the help of their own fingers.
Nevertheless, the main task of the play not the exact and correct making the figures, but the development of the toddlers’ imagination with the help of light and shadow effects. Thus, children can try to make any figures they want and to examine the effects (Johnson et al., 2005).
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Shadow Puppets is a kind of the puppet or shadow theatre in creating of which parents or teachers can involve toddlers. To make a shadow show, it is necessary to create the figures and put them on sticks and have one light source. It is possible to use a white wall in order to demonstrate the show.
Thus, such an activity includes two parts of the realization. The first part is the preparation of the figures for the show. It is a chance for a child to express his creativity and improve his skills in making definite figures from paper which develop different kinds of his or her movements.
The next step is the presentation of the show which can be based on the toddler’s favorite fairy plot with using popular characters. Therefore, children have the opportunity to play the scenes which are the result of their imagination and interact with each other. Moreover, it is possible to use the opportunity to play with light and shadow and focus the children’s attention on those changes in the size of the figures which can be observed when they alter the distance between the light source and the object.
It is also important to concentrate on the fact that there are transparent objects which cannot have a shadow because the light moves through them. Adults can demonstrate these objects to toddlers and accentuate their qualities. Such exercises are also helpful for children’ cognitive development and for the formation of their vision of the world which is around them (Levine, 2006).
Shadow Tag Play
Shadow Tag Play is a kind of outdoor activities which gives toddlers the opportunity to communicate with each other in the park or a garden and develop their physical abilities because the game is energetic. To organize Shadow Tag Play, it is necessary to form the group of children which can include more than three participants and explain them the rules.
Thus, it is required to determine the child who will tag the other children with stepping on their shadows (Levine, 2006). When the other child is tagged the roles are changed. To provide the game effectively, it is necessary to follow such conditions as the sunshine weather and a lot of the spare rest for children tagging each other.
It is rather interesting for children to focus their attention on the length of their shadows according to a morning time, late afternoon or evening. When toddlers have the opportunity to play the game several times a day or during a long period of time they can say when it is easier for them to play it because the shadows are quite long. Moreover, this kind of activities can be considered as the exercises for toddlers when they can practice their physical abilities and make their movements more accurate.
Thus, a typical tag game which is played by the children of different ages can be successfully used for the development of toddlers as the part of their everyday outdoor activities helpful for their health, social and emotional growth (Levine, 2006).
Shadow Dancing is a kind of the activity which can be considered as an outdoor and indoor one. However, the outdoor variant of the game is more pleasant for toddlers. The most important meaning of Shadow Dancing for toddlers’ development is focusing on the children’s positive emotions and their interactions with each other. The rules of the activity give them the opportunity to interact and change different kinds of exercises several times.
To play Shadow Dancing effectively, it is necessary to choose a fine sunny day when the shadows can be clearly seen and propose children to dance outside with their shadows. The necessary condition for the game is the usage of the energetic music. It is helpful to use those pieces of music and melodies which made these children dance in their everyday life when the adults could observe them. These melodies will be familiar for toddlers and will contribute to their active involvement into the dancing activity.
To play the game, it is important to show the children different steps and movements which they can use while dancing with their shadows. To develop their attention, it is possible to ask them do different kinds of movements when they hear various melodies.
Moreover, the rules for the exercise can change and the children should dance with the other children’s shadows or dance with the partner and his or her shadow (Levine, 2006). This kind of activities not only develops toddlers physically but also contributes to their emotional and aesthetic development.
Levine, J. (2006). The everything toddler activities book: Games and projects that entertain and educate. USA: Adams Media.
Johnson, J.E., Christie, J.F., & Wardle, F. (2005). Play, development, and early education. London: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.