doorshadow2 copyJ has been learning about the behaviour of light in school is fascinated by the concept of shadows. I have been having fun with him on the subject, talking about the different ways people have used shadows in creative manners. I have been wanted to decorate our front door, so I thought that a silhouette mural would be a great project.

Before starting a craft project with J and Little E, I like to get them excited about it and give them an idea of what we are trying to accomplish.

This time, I went online and showed the kids some videos of shadow puppetry (better known as Wayang Kulit). I also read to them an excerpt from the story of Peter Pan (specifically the bit when Peter Pan is trying to catch his shadow in Wendy’s bedroom!).

Then, I showed them some shadow paper art by the artist Yamashita and paper cameo art by Karl Johnson before suggesting that we try to make a silhouette mural for the front door! Both J and Little E were very excited and had many ideas to contribute.

It took us two days to complete this project. This is because I like to limit craft sessions with the kids to a maximum of 30-45 minutes. I don’t really like to keep the kids going on an activity for too long because they start to lose their enthusiasm for it – once they squirm about and ask if they can be done with it, you know you’ve gone on for far too long!

Materials  used (scroll down to the bottom of the post for stockist information):

1. A large roll of plain brown wrapping paper
2. Tempera paints
3. Sponge roller brushes
4. Safety scissors/toddler plastic scissors
5. Pencil and marker
6. Blutack (or whatever you want to use for sticking the silhouette to the wall afterwards)
7. Rag and old newspaper (optional)


Day 1:

First, we laid little E on the wrapping paper and J traced her outline with a pencil.

Then, we turned the wrapping paper over and covered the unmarked side with paint using sponge rollers. I like to use tempera paints as they are water-based, so they wash off skin and clothes very easily – good for messy painting projects. Little E is only 2 years old, so her fine motor skills are not yet fully developed, so every paint project is bound to be an exceedingly messy one.

I made them paint over the whole back of the wrapping paper until it was entirely covered in paint, then I dabbed off excess paint with a rag so that the paper would not become overly saturated.

Afterwards, we laid the paper on a flat surface (the dining table) to dry.

When the paper was mostly dry, I laid it paint-side down in between some sheets of old newspaper and then put some heavy books over it to smoothen out any wrinkles and to stop the paper from curling up at the edges.

shadowcraft2 copyDay 2:

On the back of the wrapping paper (the unpainted side), I used a black marker to trace over the pencil outline that J drew.

I gave J a pair of scissors and supervised him in roughly cutting out the silhouette. J’s motor skills are not yet developed enough to do this on his own, but practice makes perfect! I went over his work afterwards to trim off the excess paper and smoothen out the whole image.

Whilst J was practicing his scissor skills, I gave Little E some of the paper scraps and a pair of plastic scissors so that she could work on cutting paper too. The plastic scissors won’t hurt her if she accidentally pinches her finger in the blades, but it doesn’t cut paper cleanly, so it’s only useful for rough work. It is still very good for practicing fine movements and strengthening little hands…and for keeping the tiny ones occupied during crafttime!

After the kids had finished playing with their silhouettes on the floor, I got them to help me to roll and place little balls of blutack at one inch intervals all around the edges of the paper. This little exercise is great for the developing fine finger movements!

We then arranged the shapes on the door and made sure they were fixed down firmly. As a finishing touch, I added some dragonflies in the space in between the silhouettes to give the whole mural some movement.

shadowcraftdoor copy

The kids love seeing their silhouettes up on the door and they still proudly point to them whenever we come home!

P.S. online craft store has generously released a discount code exclusively for Picapie’s parent community! Enter the code ‘WELOVEART’ at checkout for a 20% discount on all products from 14 – 20th April 2013! Get ready by saving stuff to your shopping cart now!

P.P.S. Of course, if you want to avoid the mess and clean up afterwards, you can always buy a cool adhesive silhouette wall decal for the nursery like this one from Decorette and get your kids to help you paste that up instead!

~ Debs

Find Picapie’s recommended craft materials here.
I bought all of the craft materials in this post from Popular bookstore and ArtFriend – but that is before I found out that you can get all of it online for a very reasonable price!
1. Tempera Paints
Crayola Washable Paints(16oz bottles) and Crayola Washable Paints Starter Kit from DearBaby
Giotto Quality Paints (250, 1L bottles), Pebeo Primacolour (1L bottles) from Overjoyed 
2. Maped Safety scissors and Maped Kidikut Plastic scissors from Overjoyed 
3. Sponge rollers from Overjoyed
4. Paper, pens, markers and blutack can also be found at Overjoyed