Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Lights and Reflection as a Loose Part

Light is such an interesting concept to explore! Light is certainly one aspect or variable of loose parts. Here we share various types of ways to explore light, loose parts to use with loose parts, using mirrors and reflection, where to find loose parts to go with lights and mirrors, and points to consider. Please leave a comment on how you use light and reflection as a loose part!

Sources of light:
overhead projector (I got ours for $15 at a thrift store--someone knew I wanted one and let me know)
light table--I liked the size, storage, and mobility of this one
color changing light table--check Kodo kids or Jonti Kraft
Lite Brights--found one at a garage sale!
light pad/panel
light box, tracing panel
light jars
battery operated candles
candle (with supervision, knowing ages and stages of your children)
light wands (check out what we've done with light painting!)

Loose Parts to use with light:
plastic colored ice cubes
Magnatiles, Picasso tiles are similar yet less expensive
glass pebbles
mosaic tiles
clear, colored plastic shot glasses
cocktail swizzle sticks
acrylic table scatter (leaves, hearts, pumpkins, acorns, gems, etc.)
printed transparencies
tissue paper
dried fruit slices
slides--we love ones with nature!
sliced agate rocks
Blokus and other game pieces
translucent letters and numbers
natural items--leaves, sticks, sea sponges, pinecones, and flowers
doilies (paper or thread)
dry erase markers
sealed water bottles with colored water
loose parts kits (like from Right Brained Mom)
large clear tubing
clear containers for sorting and categorizing (recycled fruit cups)
clear egg containers
colored plastic folder dividers (cut in any shape)
translucent duplo type or LEGO type blocks
Petri dishes
Tulle or other gauzy fabrics
feathers, feather boa
insects in resin
paint in ziploc bags
translucent bracelets
sections of Mardi Gras beads
clear geoboards with rubber bands
Chinese checker board with holes for marbles
translucent color mixing paddles
clear colored cups
Seasonal items (snowflakes, icicles, etc.)
plastic colored test tubes
ping pong balls
translucent shapes
translucent counting chips
translucent pattern blocks
old costume jewelry

Using Mirrors/Reflection:
Ten ways to enrich play with mirrors

12 by 12 inch acrylic mirrors (use two or three to make a "box" or mirror book)

Consider a mirrored table

What is reflective? Encourage children to find reflective surfaces (candy wrappers, metal trays, CDs, etc.)
We love having a domed acrylic mirror outside to see ourselves in nature's tree tops as we play!

Personally, I like using acrylic mirror; however, I know many in early childhood that use regular mirrors. Some back the mirror with duct tape in case it breaks.

Small mirrors (Discount school supply?) that can be held in the hand are good for outdoor exploration.

Use mirrors with water, glass gems, and a scooping container for another effect!

Try painting on the mirrors.

Create a shiny tinker tray! -- nuts, bolts, washers, paper clips, foil, CDs, and more.

Where to find loose parts: 
Dollar Tree
Family Dollar
Party stores
Amazon (see links in article)
Thrift stores/garage sales--see through items that are not easy to break and safe for children

Loose Parts Play Facebook group
Light Exploration for Children Facebook group
Making the Most of Light and Mirrors -- Lovely book focused on light and mirrors!

Things to consider: 

  • Use both opaque and translucent items.
  • Consider adding a clear tray on top with a lip and using sand, salt, flour, marbles, or water beads inside the tray. Chris Binder suggested, "I like sand in a clear tray--they can write, or put gems in it. They can use a unique writing utensil, like a candy cane, or a feather, a stick or just their finger. They can copy a shape or a letter or their name, or a squiggly pattern...or just use it unguided (but we do say that the sand stays in the tray). You can color the sand, or use salt (I scent mine with maple in the fall and peppermint in December and lavender or other essential oils when I want a calmer class...) or you can use sprinkles (like for cookies)." 
  • Consider seasonal items, such as fall, winter (snowflakes), Valentine's Day, etc. 
  • Add mirrors in corner on wall by light table for additional reflectivity. 
  • Make connections to art. Study Starry Night in conjunction with play. 
  • Experiment with shadow play!

Thanks for all the suggestions in the Loose Parts Play Facebook group! This post contains affiliate links. I have tried many of these products first hand and love them.
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