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Screen-Free Play: Block Shadow Tracing

2017-05-02 by Sarah Noftle

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Our guest blogger Sarah of How Wee Learn used an indoor day to turn blocks and sunlight into screen-free play with shadow tracing!

We were playing outside last week and my littlest said to me, “Mama, what IS that sound?” Birds. BIRDS! It was in that exact moment I realized we were playing outside and I was not cold. Not even a little.

I don’t believe there is anything quite as wonderful as that very first day of true spring weather.

And then Mother Nature hit us with snow. Not nice Mother Nature.

But hey – spring snow I can handle just fine. I know it will be short lived and I know that the lovely warm weather will return soon. It’s January snow that is tough to handle.

So while we were ‘handling’ our spring snow, we thought we would use that warm sunny sun shining through our windows for some art. And it was marvelous!

Screen-Free Play: Block Shadow Tracing

We basked in the sun and made some neat castles using shadow tracing. We pulled out the castle blocks and built lovely castles on long paper.

Screen-Free Play: Block Shadow Tracing

Next, my little guy traced them. It is always so neat to remove the blocks and see the shadow line remaining. It is also very neat to see how sometimes the shadow lines look very different from the actual castle constructed.

Screen-Free Play: Block Shadow Tracing

Actually, it would be pretty neat to leave the same castle and trace it as the sun moves throughout the day. Lots of playful learning possibilities with this one!

We had more of an art focus with our sun basking (I mean castle shadow tracing). So I thought it would be neat to mix up the process a bit.

After we traced the shadow on normal paper, I pulled out the Scratch Art Rainbow White paper.

Screen-Free Play: Block Shadow Tracing

It’s funny how the same activity done in a slightly different way can make an incredible difference. Sam was into the first activity, but he was really into this one.

The shadow tracing was done far more carefully and the time taken to draw details on the castle after the blocks were removed was quite impressive.

So much so I thought I would kick it up another notch: Rainbow Finger Paint Paper. Oh yes.

Screen-Free Play: Block Shadow Tracing

We had never used this kind of paper before and it was really neat. Sam built a very simple castle – mostly because he was so intrigued with how this paper worked. We then added just a little bit of paint to the wet paper and he smeared it all around.

Next he used his fingernail to trace the shadow. Very quickly actually. Which ended with, “can I have another piece to do something different?”

Ah – this paper was just too cool. Of course! He then spent the better part of the afternoon finger painting and making super neat creations with this very cool paper.

And that suited me and little brother just fine as we continued our sun basking.

When Mother Nature throws you spring snow, window sun basking coupled with some simple and fun art is definitely the way to go.

Share your own screen-free crafts and block play photos with us on Instagram and Facebook using the hashtags #TakeBackChildhood, #CountlessWaysToPlay and #MelissaAndDoug!


Sarah Noftle

Sarah is a teacher, mama, and wanna-be homesteader. She is home with her kids learning through play, exploring with nature, and surviving parenthood with humor. She writes at How Wee Learn which is full of creative and playful learning activities for kids, as well as the occasional post on natural living and farmyard antics. Sarah would love to connect with you on Facebook and Pinterest so she can show you pictures of her chickens (and more relevant things too, of course).

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