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Showy Shadow Puppets

Teach your children to observe Groundhog Day by playing with shadows

One bright morning, turn your backs on the sun and find your shadows on the sidewalk or driveway. Use chalk to outline the shadows you and your child cast. Back indoors, make a couple of Play-Doh groundhogs (or mice or some other little guys). Use a flashlight to give them their shadows. Move the flashlight (or the groundhogs) around to make the shadows change shape, or trace the groundhogs' shadows, the way you did your own. In the afternoon check outside and see if you and your child can fit your shadows back into your chalk outlines. You can't, of course, because like your flashlight, the sun has moved. — Lynne Bertrand

Animal Hand Shadow Tips


To produce the best shadows, perform these puppets in front of a blank wall. Have a helper hold the flashlight and vary where the beam points to get the darkest shadow. Encourage your audience to add each animal's noise once they recognize what it is.

Note: Consider not performing before bedtime, lest you spend the night creating shadow antidotes to night terrors.

Puppy Face


  • Bring one arm in front of your body with fingers pointing forward and hand turned so your thumb points up.
  • Raise your thumb. (This will be the puppy's ear.)
  • Bend in your index finger, giving the puppy's face some dimension.
  • Wag your pinky up and down, and hear that puppy bark!

Challenge:
Using two hands sandwiched together to create the puppy's head, can you add a wagging tongue to her mouth?

Spider


  • Cross your hands in front of you, palms up, laying the back of the top hand against the palm of the hand in front of it, with fingers splayed to the sides.
  • Bring the pads of both thumbs together to form the spider's head.
  • Spread the fingers of both hands and gently cup toward you.
  • Wiggle fingers slowly as you raise your hands and arms to let the spider "climb."

Challenge:
Keeping a similar hand formation, can kids help you create a bat? Butterfly? Bird?

Goose


  • Bend your right arm next to your body, keeping your forearm perpendicular to the ground.
  • Bend your right hand at the wrist, keeping your palm parallel to the ground and your elbow close to your body.
  • Cup your middle, ring, and pinky fingers, keeping them close to your pointer finger. (This forms the goose's head and leaves a space for his eye.)
  • Lower your thumb to create the goose's bottom beak.
  • Cup your left hand against the underside of your forearm, keeping your left wrist against your right elbow.

Challenge:
Can you swivel the goose's neck and body to peck at another shadow animal?

Elephant Head


  • Bring your left hand in front of you, palm parallel to the floor.
  • Cup your right hand on top of your left.
  • Fold the middle and ring fingers of your left hand down, perpendicular to your palm. (This is the elephant's trunk.)
  • On that left hand, slightly dip your thumb to form the elephant's bottom jaw.
  • Your left index and pinky fingers are the elephant's tusks.

Challenge:
Can you coordinate both hands to make the elephant "trumpet" his trunk?

Sources:
pbskids.org, mindbluff.com, www.exeter.ac.uk, pennybiz.net— Lexi Walters

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CeReality: 5 Families, 5 Stories, 1 Critical Meal

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