In one short week, the school year will end. For many kids, that means summer camp. I teach science and art camps for children during school breaks, so I have been hard at work planning my summer session of Kat Camp. This year the theme is “Light and Dark.” I love that this theme can be concrete, like learning about how blocking light produces shadow. But it can also be abstract, like drawing to music that might be termed light or dark.
I’ve been playing around with different ideas, and thought I would pass on a few, in case you want to explore your own Light and Dark theme at home.
1. Plastic Cup Suncatchers
I saw this post that produced a gorgeous rainbow suncatcher from melted plastic cups.
While the result is incredible, it is a bit more involved than I can do with a group of young children in a camp. I decided to modify to a single strand. If children want to produce more than one stand and put them together as a mobile at home, they would have that option.
I found plastic cups a the dollar store, but they were not the type 6 recycling plastic recommended in the post. I gave them a shot anyway.
They did not produce the perfectly rounded bubble as seen in the original post, but I think they look really cool! I love how the irregular shapes- to me they look like interesting glass. I also layered the cups to get different colors- putting a blue cup over a green cup to get turquoise. I felt bad throwing out the bottom of the cups, so instead, I melted those too. I especially liked when I layered the bottom of two cups- it created a neat bubble effect.
I attempted punching holes in the cups, but noticed that when these cups melted, the hole got covered. Instead, I drilled holes after all the cups were melted.
On camp day, the kids will thread the pieces to make their suncatchers. Easy, beautiful project- great for fine motor skills, and can be a vocabulary booster when you define words like transparent and illuminate. If you do not like the look of the string, you could opt for fishing line.
2. Glow lanterns
For camp, we are going to make glow in the dark bouncy balls. You can find the recipe here:
But I couldn’t wait to try out the glow in the dark paint, so Kellen and I made glow lanterns.
I saw this craft where the artist painted tiny dots of glow in the dark paint on a mason jar to create a starry lantern.
Another beautiful project, but my four year old is not precise and dedicated enough to paint all those dots just yet. We opted for another version.
We squirted the glow in the dark paint inside of plastic bottles so that it would run down and stripe the sides. In my experience, children enjoy squeezing the paint more than just about any other aspect of the project- I think because it is generally something they are not allowed to do. We also added some glitter paint and regular glitter to the mix.
We sealed the bottle with cute tape, and then got to shaking up all the contents inside.
The finished project was super cute, and really glowed!
3. Making Rainbows
No lesson on light and dark would be complete without making rainbows. The class is going to do two experiments to learn how rainbows are made.
When I was a kid, I always wanted a prism because I thought they were so beautiful. I really wanted to give each camper a rainbow maker to take home. I contacted a friend who is a jewelry maker, and asked if she knew where I could get inexpensive, high quality crystals. She directed me to a couple of websites for chandelier parts.
I was able to get huge, high quality crystals that make tons of rainbows for about $0.70 each! This one is a bit covered in dust because we were already playing with it, spinnning it on the ground. I can’t wait to give them to the kids!
I’ve got more light and dark crafts for my campers, so be on the lookout for part two. But hopefully these crafts will get you started on your exploration of light and dark.