Friday, February 26, 2010

Focus on the Arts

Did you know?
The arts can make you smart! Recent research demonstrates a correlation between the arts and higher academic performance. In the report, “Learning, Arts and the Brain,” seven universities presented several studies discussing how visual arts, music, and dance training and skill impact learning (The DanaFoundation, 2008).

The focus for the Family Resource Center (FRC) for March, April and May is Making Connections to the Arts. To find ways to nurture your child's connections to the arts, visit DCM and the Family Resource Center on the 2nd Floor. Inside the FRC and throughout the Museum, we offer many parent books and resources related to Developmental Concepts, Play at the Museum, and Play at Home.

Explore Art in our Exhibits
Look around and you will see art in every exhibit area of the Museum. Integrating art with math and science is an important part of the Museum's mission. Our Interdisciplinary Arts Specialist chooses works that explore exhibit ideas in each Neighborhood. Look for originals such as Rufus Seder's Jumping Frog, as well as reproductions of famous artwork by Klee, Picasso and others. And don't miss wonderful pieces like Ocean in Motion, created by children working with an artist-in-residence. Let the arts make you smart at DCM!

Explore Art in our Studio
Studio drop-in activities in the Art Studio are FREE to DCM members or FREE with regular admission. No pre-registration is required. Activities are on-going during each drop-in session and will explore alternating math-, science- and art-related discovery projects that support a different learning theme each month. Some sessions provide the opportunity to take something home with you. All sessions encourage you and your child to explore and experiment with a variety of materials. View our calendar for more information.

Attend a Tiny Great Performance
Attending a Tiny Great Performancehelps build upon many areas of your child's physical, cognitive, linguistic and social-emotional development. For more information about Tiny Great Performances, click here.

Explore Art on our Blog

You may enjoy reading some of our favorite posts about the arts:
The Art of Shadows
An Early Introduction to the Performing Arts
Creating Sculptures with Packing Peanuts

Studies show that art experiences are critical in developing fundamental cognitive skills and capacities. Read more here

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Art of Shadows

A shadow can show the shape of an object, but it doesn't show colors or intricate details. In our new exhibit, Shadow Playground, we have added colored lights to an exhibit component, Shadow Scapes, which enhance the use of creativity with shadows.

In Shadow Scapes children fit together curved and straight slotted pieces to build sculptures and observe shadow with colored light. When children notice the colored lights on their sculptures, they might take away or add pieces to change the look of the sculpture with the light. Not only do we hear children mentioning the colors they see, but both children and adults are also often observed looking for the colored lights, as if to say, "What's causing that shadow to have multiple colors?"

Artists have used silhouettes as an artistic medium since the 18th century. During one of our weekly Drop-in programs children used shadows of objects or themselves to create silhouettes. The children arranged or piled up an assortment of fun and oddly shaped objects and then traced the shadows on a chalkboard. Of course, the most popular activity was tracing their own images .

Shadow puppetry is an art form that has existed for thousands of years. Both through a drop-in weekly program at the Museum and through a DCM partnership with Aurora Public Library, visitors created shadow puppets. Both children and adults discovered that no matter how much color or decoration was put on a puppet, their puppet's shadow was still dark. What happens when you put some hole punches in your puppet?

You can make these puppets at home using paper, craft sticks, tape or glue and hole punchers. Shine a flashlight through your puppet or take it with you on a walk. What do you see?

You might also want to explore the art and science of shadows through books. Here are a few of our favorite books about shadow and light:

What Makes a Shadow by Clyde Robert Bulla
Guess Whose Shadow by Stephen R. Swinburne
Nothing Sticks Like a Shadow by Lynn Munsinger
All about Light by Lisa Tumbaer
My Shadow by Robert Lewis Stevenson and Glenna Lang

You will find these and other books in our Creativity Connections Neighborhood. If you wish to purchase one of the suggested books, click here to participate in our Shop and Grow program.

Explore Shadow Science

Go for an evening walk with your child and I can guarantee your child will notice shadows. Watch how the streetlight casts a shadow of your image on the sidewalk. Does your shadow move with you? How can you make your shadow bigger or smaller?

Capitalizing on children's natural curiosity about shadows was one of the main goals of the original exhibit, Shadow Theater, in the Creativity Connections Neighborhood. Through the refurbished exhibit, Shadow Playground, we have created opportunities for children to use their natural curiosity for practicing scientific skills, such as observing, predicting, comparing and sharing ideas as they explore causes and effects of shadow play.

Exploring Science through Shadows
See how this child is using two flashlights to cast shadows through two types of screens. Here she has the opportunity to move light sources to observe change in shadow direction. She can compare shadows and possibly predict the light impact on distance to size ratio.

In Colored Shadows, another exhibit component in Shadow Playground, we see visitors intrigued with what they observe. Here children can observe how multiple light sources affect their shadows and how colored lights cast different colors of shadows. Some visitors have been overheard talking about what causes these multiple-colored shadows (cause and effect) and may share ideas about what they observe.

Notice how the child at the bottom of this picture is looking up. He and other visitors are building a town. The child is noticing a light above the town. When activated, the light will move and cast shadows on their buildings, trees, cars, trains or people. In Shadow Town, the angle of the light on an object affects the length of the shadow. Some of our visitors will make the association between (or compare) how the light is like the sun's path when it casts shadows throughout the day. One child was overheard asking, "Where's the moon?"

Stay tuned! In our next post we'll look at how children explore art through shadows.