Shadow Box Stories

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At the beginning of the year, we began an exploration of light in all its forms. As we moved through the discovery of transparent, translucent, and opaque materials, experimenting with flashlights and overhead projectors, it wasn’t long before students were working with shadows.

To deepen their understanding of shadows and provide more rich material for their research, we began an author study of Ezra Jack Keats, whose illustrations often have many compelling uses of light. In several books, such as “Dreams” and “The Trip,” light and shadows are an explicit part of the story line.

We spent many weeks in our classroom creating shadow puppets. We played with several silhouettes of characters from the Ezra Jack Keats books and became more and more familiar with the vibrant, interconnected community at the center of many of his books. Students came to love characters like Peter, Susie, Louie, Archie, Amy, and Roberto.

Children collaborated to make five different shadow boxes after Louie built one in “The Trip.” At the same time, we started telling stories together, with each student adding a sentence. We have written many stories together about characters from Ezra Jack Keats books.

We are now preparing to present the culmination of all this learning with an original movie set in our shadow boxes.

Gabrielle Bills, Blue Preschool Teacher: curriculum, text

Rebecca Mack, Atelierista: photos

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Raw material, mature material.

How do infants use paper as a raw material? They use it for play, for tactile experience, for making sound, for hiding, for hugging, for sharing, for large movements and small ones too.

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Infants enjoy exploring paper’s relationship to motion, to wind, and to other people.

The Burlington Children’s Space Infant Room has partnered with atelierista, Rebecca Mack, for a long-term paper arts residency exploring the ways infants use paper as a raw material. Our first work has focused on crumpling and creasing large sheets of white paper. Our process begins with a dry sheet of drawing paper and a lot of play.

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Our play process marks with paper with creases over time, turning something crisp, smooth and loud into something soft, supple and quiet. The paper becomes a familiar part of the classroom as it changes from being a raw material to being a mature material.

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