Shadow Puppets

It’s really hot.

We staggered to the library for storytime this morning and lurched home again but that was all the outside time that we could manage today.

Susan Pagnucci was the guest storyteller today and she had some great ideas of ways to bring the story home, including a shadow puppet theatre!

You know how you read those chirpy little articles in parenting magazines that proclaim how you can make a spectacular stained glass birdhouse using bits and bobs that you have hanging around the house.  I don’t know about your house, but those authors have never been to my house.

We had no car today, no money to spend, and then there was that whole pesky too hot to be alive problem so it’s not like we were going to march a mile down to Hobby Lobby and back again. No worries though, somehow we had all we needed.

It begins a box, some muslin (she said you could use paper but it would never survive our particular brand of enthusiasm), and some packing tape.

Shadow puppets

Muslin may not seem to be the sort of thing that one has on hand but you could use any sort of thin, light colored fabric.  Old t-shirt, retired handkerchief, etc.  The only reason that we had muslin knocking around our craft drawer is that I had great ambitions of making a quilt square for each month of our preschool curriculum, conveniently forgetting that I have no idea how to make a quilt.  That project was abandoned after the first square.

Our packing tape is extra fun because I like sending happy packages to my friends.

First step, break down the box.

Shadow puppets

I cut off all the extra parts leaving one large front panel and two side panels and I cut a wedge off each side of the side panels to make it lean properly.

Shadow puppets

Then I forgot to take pictures for a while because my assistants were starting to turn against me and the sharp objects to preschool rage ratio was getting out of hand.  The next and possibly most essential step of the activity involved plopping the boys in front of Scooby Doo while I finished the parts that involved cutting.

We resume the photo journey after I cut a square out of the front frame of the cardboard with boxcutters and taped the square of fabric in place with the packing tape.

Shadow puppets

The light source is my bedside lamp which I have very little hope of reclaiming for use in that capacity.  Any sort of small lamp or even a flashlight would do.

Shadow puppets

Susan Pagnucci did a sweet little version of “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” at storytime with her shadow puppets but that was entirely beyond my scope of possibility so we did “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.

I drew a spider, a cloud (“down came the rain”) and a sun and the kids taped the shapes to bendy straws.

Shadow puppets

Shadow puppets

Shadow puppets

For Twinkle, I made a star and a diamond shape (“like a diamond in the sky”).  Less is more, right?

The Magic of Math

Children learn really early on to put themselves neatly into little boxes based on their aptitude and interest.  I’ve been snuggled into one labeled Math Impaired for as long as I can remember.

Lately I’ve been starting to feel like maybe this box doesn’t really fit anymore.  Furthermore, maybe this whole box proclivity is a bad idea altogether.  Maybe math and I can get along after all.

The creative mamas over at No Time for Flashcards have a really good post today on books about math for preschoolers that puts me in mind of the excellent book Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci by Joseph d’Agnese and John O’Brien.  We have been in love with this book since our aforementioned  superb librarian recommended it to us several months ago.

You can see a book trailer at d’Agnese’s website but it’s not allowing me embed it here.

I wouldn’t really call this one a book for preschoolers.  Liam, the story hound, will sit through it with rapt attention but Atticus wanders off about halfway through.  It’s a gorgeously illustrated introduction to the mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci‘s early life and his two major academic contributions, bringing what would become our modern decimal system to Europe and researching and writing about what became known as the Fibonacci sequence or Fibonacci numbers.

There are many modern developments that grew out of the Fibonacci sequence, including computer algorithms and financial market analysis (ZZzzzz…not my area of interest) but the aspect that is most fascinating to Liam and me is how the number sequence repeatedly appears in nature.

I also appreciate that the book presents a child who was disparaged and dismissed for approaching the world differently than other children (hence the Blockhead part of the title) but who went on to make a huge contribution to academia, not unlike Einstein or Edison.  I don’t know how much basis this aspect of the story has in the reality of Fibonacci’s life since we don’t actually know that much about him as a person but it’s always a good reminder to parents and teachers about how all children learn and discover in different ways.