Take two wooden dowels, two clamps and a sheet of paper. Put them together and a shadow screen is produced. These simple materials greeted the children last week. As a curious teacher I had placed them there, in the hope that the children would connect their love of light and shadow to storytelling. What happened next surprised me.O. looked closely, thought deeply for a moment, and then said, “If we take another two sticks, but they need to be longer, and some clamps and paper, then we can have two plays going on at the same time.” The table that the clamps were attached had a bottom shelf, so this indeed, could be a possibility. O. and S. then began to test out the theatre. “We need lights to shine on the back of the screen,” S. announced. “I know. We could hang two flashlights down from the ceiling, but they need to be at a right angle.” O. immediately went off to collect two pieces of wood. She had another idea!
Taping the two pieces of wood together at a 360 degree angle created a wooden bracket. The flashlight was attached at the end. Brilliant! Other children arrived. With a need for stronger light, the table was placed near the window, and our day began.During centre time, the theatre was a great draw. Tape was in much evidence, as the children began to experiment. They rolled tape into a circular ball and attached paper puppets to the front of the screen. Flags appeared, as the children remembered ‘The Globe Theatre’ had a flag when a play was on. More tape created puppet holders at each side. Magnatiles were attached with tape to the edge of the table, hanging down to create coloured shadows on the floor. A design element directly connecting their love of testing and experimenting with light and shadows, which has been prevalent through our SK year.Promoting creative thinking is something education is currently very much focussing on. Citizens of the 21st century need to develop a ‘could be’ attitude, a creative mindset that is comfortable with ‘thinking outside the box’ and seeing beyond the obvious. In the SK classroom there is a culture of collaboration, which fosters creativity. There are many opportunities for hands on experimentation, brainstorming, testing, learning from mistakes, making connections, and building on to others ideas. Howard Gardner believed that by aged seven a child has developed a store of creativity that he can access later on in his life. The children’s shadow theatre is a means of supporting the accumulation of this creative wealth.‘Creativity is the process of developing ideas that are original and of value. Creative intelligence is dynamic, diverse and distinct.’ ~ Sir Ken Robinson 2001