The clocks have gone back an hour. This now gives us great opportunities to enjoy the dark nights. Playing outside in the dark helps children use all their senses and learn:
- How animals and plants behave in the night time
- How to be safe outside in the dark – what to wear, how to look after oneself, how to seek help if needed
- About the different seasons and changes such as the days getting shorter
- That the dark is not always truly dark – different shades of darkness exist
One of the most enjoyable community activities is to hold a Star Party, to learn about the night sky. Read this blog post for more information. Meanwhile enjoy the activities suggested below…
1) Watch the Sunset
The best way to learn about the stars is to watch them appear on a clear night just after the sun sets. Get a comfy insulation mat, snuggle into a sleeping back, lie down on your back and watch the show! Look out for man-made flying objects and UFOs too. There are lots of astronomy apps which can be used to assist you in identifying the constellations.
As the sun goes down, it can also be a perfect time to explore silhouettes and enjoy the outlines of different landscape features. Or creating the perfect pose 🙂
2) Moonlight Shadows
On a bright clear winter’s night when there is a full moon or thereabouts, go for a walk in a park or other place where you can look at the shadows made by the moon. In what way do they differ from sun shadows?
3) Adjust your Eyes
It’s easy to go glitzy and bring on the light festivals when it’s dark. Arguably, we miss more action than we see when torches, fires, lights and lanterns are present. They stop our eyes from adjusting to the dark. Go for a light free walk in a natural space where there are no street lights and see the world of darkness. Is it as dark as you thought? It is a good idea to choose a path which everyone has walked beforehand in day time and have a torch, just in case.
4) Nocturnal Minibeasts
Use a torch and Investigate tree stumps, log piles and other places where minibeasts congregate. Look underneath stones and logs. There may be lots of minibeast activity happening. Who are the night time party animals? Look and see what happens when a light is shined on these places. Often it is the scurrying of minibeasts which gives a clue to their existence. Do an experiment to find out whether minibeasts prefer light or dark places to live. Design a fair test.
5) Be a Nocturnal Animal
Find out about animals which are nocturnal. Look for evidence of nocturnal animals, e.g. foxes, badgers, owls, bats, etc. Remind people to wear quiet clothes which do not rustle and footwear which doesn’t clomp. Is it possible to move silently along at night? How does this feel?
6) Become Invisible
Is it true that if you close your eyes you become invisible? Does it depend upon whether it’s night or day? Experiment with a friend. Does the dark dim people’s outlines?
7) Shiny, Happy People
Decorate yourself with lots of reflective material, glow sticks, freebie wrist bands and dangly reflectors. Make sure that you really light up the streets when cars pass or you walk under a lamp. Is it better to be dripping with reflectors or to just wear reflective material and items in one or two places on your body?
8) Light Trails
Along a path or in your outdoor space, hide reflective bands and discs. Let your friends see if they can find the exact amount by searching for them with torches.
9) Light Lanterns
Create little lanterns from glass jars or willow withies and paper. Decide where is the best place to hang them outside. What are the pros and cons of using torches versus tea lights? The light source will affect the type of lantern which can be made. Snow lanterns are a lot of fun too. Do a Google search for some wonderful images.
10) Shadow Puppets
Create a shadow puppet theatre in the dark. What materials will you need? Where is the best place to position a torch? What material creates the best effect? It can be a lot of fun, if our bodies are the puppets…