A Special Project
With Simple Tools

When Sunshine pulled an odd-looking book out of the bookcase last week, I smiled instantly. It was a book that was designed for casting shadows on the wall of the a dark room, with a story to go along with the shadows. It was a book that I'd found quite clever when we received it as a gift several years ago; I remember thinking then that this is the kind of a thing we could do at home. We could make a shadow-casting book and story of our own.
Children Doing Arts and CraftsOf course, we never did. There always seemed to be something else to do. Maybe now is the time to do that, I thought when we looked at the book last week. Yeah. Now. With Sunshine.

Simple supplies

I bet you have the supplies you need to make and use a shadow book in your house right now - and it won't take long. You need:

  • Construction paper, preferably - though not necessarily black
  • A pencil - for drawing your cutting line
  • Scissors
  • Pen or marker for writing your story
  • Staples, or some other way to hold the pages together
  • A flashlight for casting the shadows

Preparing the pages

All the pages of the story should start the same size - and not too big. About 5" by 7" is a manageable size.

Next, decide which edge is going to be the bound edge and note that in some temporary way - perhaps a small pencil mark. All the pages of the book should, of course, be created with this common binding edge in mind.

Plan your story and cut out

Next it's time to plan your story. The story can be as simple or as fanciful as you like. You can start with words, or with simple shapes sketched out on the construction paper.

It's really fun to do this with your child, bringing out his or her creativity. You really never know what will come out, and that's the fun of it.

As you sketch out shapes, keep them simple but bold. You'll be cutting out the negative area. While tiny details can look fabulous in the end product, they can be difficult to cut out. Maybe keep it simpler for the first one.

Now, start cutting. Finalize the words.

Put it all together

Take all the pages of your story and put the edge you planned for binding together, and fasten. Then create a crease in the papers about an inch up from the bound edge; you will need to bend the pages around the current page to cast a clear shadow.

Turn out the lights and turn on the flashlight

This is the really fun part. Turn out the lights and turn on the flashlight. Hold up a page of the book so that you are casting the shadow of a page against a wall. You may need to adjust the focus of the flashlight to get a sharp shadow on the wall.

Sunshine and I love our new shadow book. The story is quite silly, but no matter. She's proud of her story. It makes a great bedtime book.

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