I’m so excited to introduce you to my friend Katie from A Friendly Affair. Katie is a clinical psychologist, picture book enthusiast, and all around fun person. She is passionate about helping parents and teachers connect to their kids through reading, understanding, and play. I have been admiring Katie’s instagram feed and book suggestions for a while. After connecting with her and chatting, Katie agreed to share one of her great book inspired ideas with us here. Check out these great sun catcher mobiles and the gorgeous book to inspire this process.
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Kiddos across the US are heading back to school to begin yet another exciting year of formal education. And as far as I can determine, it never hurts to give a little push right about now – to encourage your children that education itself is a worthy goal, that learning is a joy, and that world changers are first and foremost excellent thinkers. As we transition from the Olympics and into the classroom, it’s a worthy change of gears to celebrate our heroes of academia. So, when I found this precious non-fiction about Einstein, I knew I had a gem! It isn’t easy to explain to a child why Einstein is considered one of the greatest thinkers that ever lived, or why thinking is important (or even what thinking is for that matter), but this book does a great job. Without ever saying the words “particle,” “theory,” or “relativity,” On a Beam of Light by Berne and Radunsky teaches us that to work hard at “ideas” is a thing of honor; challenging our brains to understand the world is a thing of greatness.
When Einstein wrote his paper about Particle Theory in 1905, he showed the world that what we thought we knew about light didn’t have to be true. He showed us that it isn’t just acceptable, it is brilliant to look at things with new eyes – to see something as basic as sunshine in different ways. So naturally, while reading this book On a Beam of Light, I had one craft in mind that I thought would help us keep the conversation going about Einstein, Light, and seeing things in new ways: a “light catcher!” In my mind, a light catcher would be like a dream catcher, but it would use holes and color and varied densities of paper to capture light in different ways – just like Einstein!
tissue paper (we also used the pages of a book from the thrift store)
Flat Surface (we used a cookie sheet)
Paper Maché paste [1:1 water and flour, a pinch of salt, and a few tablespoons of glue]
Yarn, Twine, or Ribbon
Stick (we found ours at the base of a favorite tree)
In prep you’ll mix the maché paste, tear your tissue paper, and affix the plastic wrap to your flat surface. It might help to tape it down. I have a 3 yo and she was a big messy help making the paste, which is great because it isn’t like you’re baking. She could work on using her measuring cups and be inexact without repercussion. We also had a lot of fun tearing the paper together.
Next, you’ll use a classic paper maché technique (think: dip, wipe excess, lay and layer) until you’ve covered your cookie sheet. Remember, we want some dimension, so leave some parts thinner, some parts denser, have fun, and be as undisciplined as your heart will allow. Great results will ensue. Then leave it out to dry. In our Alabama heat, it didn’t take long before we could easily peel the plastic wrap away from our sheet of multidimensional, light-catching, paper!
After our sheet had dried and been peeled away from the plastic, we traced cups of varying sizes, I cut them out, and my daughter hole punched until her heart was content. Using our yarn, she strung the pieces together, hung from our perfect stick, and voila! A Light Catcher!
I hope you and your kiddo enjoy both the book and making a sun catcher mobile. It was a lot of fun for us, and I feel pretty good about celebrating intelligence and academic achievement with my daughter! If you enjoy picture books and hope for more of this kind of stuff (books and their companion crafts), you can sign up for my newsletter here, follow me on Instagram, or check my website A Friendly Affair for some fresh pinables. Cheers! Katie