Shadow Play

After speaking with a number of professional designers and retailers  I decided to to gather a number of items which could be manipulated by light to see what children enjoy playing with. I presented my nephews with holographic and reflective papers, disco balls, prisms, fairy lights stickers and illusion plastic to see what items they enjoyed playing with. Hiram is aged 4 and Hedley is 9 months old.

When given with the variety of objects, Hiram was instantly drawn to the disco ball which he could use to cast lights over the wall. He also enjoyed shining a torch though colourful bottles and prisms to decorate his surroundings through refraction and reflection. He also liked placing gems on a torch to create patterns on the ceiling.

I had also purchased some kits to create sun catchers and translucent fuse beads to create stained glass, and although he liked the ideas of making them they were of less interest to him short term. He immediately engaged with the items which had an instant effect and could be quickly and easily changed. These pieces were more intuitive and as there was no correct  or incorrect way to experiment with shadows. As there were no set rules or instructions to follow he seemed to find them more enjoyable.

He also enjoyed creating shadows with shaped animal stencils and his hands. This allowed him to experiment with scale and the way shapes changed in relation to the light.

Unlike Hiram, baby Hedley was much more interested in the colourful illusion plastic and holographic paper.  As well as the the pattern moving and changing under the light the plastic also made a noise when moved.


In addition, Hedley was also memorised by light and reflections. Light is very important to a children’s development, “Children’s moods are strongly affected by lighting: for some it provides a calming, soothing effect and for others it acts as a stimulant. ” (Foxcroft, 2015: Online). With this in mind I would like my product to be both engaging and educational for a variety of ages and also be visceral.

For my final piece I think I would like to design a night light for children which can be modified in order to create an interesting and engaging environment. Ideally I would prefer to create a shade or an item which can be placed next to a light source so children aren’t encouraged to play with electric. Also would also avoid materials such as glass as this can be dangerous.


Foxcroft,C (2015) Sensory Mood Lighting Can Help Calm and Soothe. Autism Parenting Magazine [Online] April 9th 2015 [Date Accessed 16th July 2017]


All photographs taken by me 16/07/17


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