I’ve wanted to introduce ‘shadow boxes’ to Pari for a long time now. If you are not familiar with shadow boxes, they are meant to display collectibles, souvenirs or knick knacks and are sort of like 3D paintings. They are like paintings in a way but have deep frames so that you can ‘mount’ an object inside unlike a painting which displays a uni-dimensional or ‘flat’ picture.
Shadow boxes come with compartments, grids or shelves and may have a glass door. The frame can be made of wood or metal if you get it from outside.
But, if you choose to make one at home – like we did – you can upcycle a sturdy cardboard box or a shoe-box and even a serving tray. You can add grids by adding smaller boxes inside the bigger box or have just one box to display the stuff.
I think shadow boxes can be a very interesting tool for engaging a child’s creativity and imagination. And, once made, can be put to brilliant use for storytelling! Ah…storytelling – I love how it can engage kids for hours and is the most effective tool for learning and literacy.
Have a look at our Easter Shadow box and some storytelling ideas…
A shadow box can be made based on a theme – like sea world or city street or playground. Or, it can be based on a child’s memories attached with a special day – like his/her birthday, a trip, the day his/her first tooth fell. Or, a season or a holiday.
In India, I’ve seen something similar to shadow boxes but we do not have a name for it.
Last week, when I told pari about this concept, she was keen to make one. And, since we’ve been talking about and exchanging ideas on what we want to do for Easter, this year, we thought, the shadow box can be based on Easter theme.
I merely facilitated this project for her. Gave her what she wanted – the colouring material, the magazines to chose pictures from; cut some pictures out when she wanted me to.
Helped her find the plastic egg (from our junk cabinet) that she wanted to mount etc.
Note – If you have to mount heavy objects, you may want to use really stronge adhesive – like the ‘Quick fix’ glue that we get in India. Outside India, I’ve heard ‘Gorilla Glue’ and ‘U Glue’ are heavy duty.
And a TIP – You can also consider lining your box surface with velcro and attach pieces of the velcro’s other side on your objects. Now, you can mount the object easily onto the velcro. The best part is you can rearrange the objects whenever you want a new layout or want to remove one object and add something else.
The best part about this project was popping the pictures and other knick knacks (egg etc). It gave a realistic aura to the scene, which does not happen with a plain collage.
Her self-brainstorming about where does she want the rabbits and the chicks; or how many trees to add or where should the egg go – were helpful lessons in design and layout! The closed area of the box in a way made her think about all this, which is an excellent exercise, in my view.
Suddenly, the rabbits and the chicks seemed to be sitting in a real space; the baby elephant looked as though it would get up and go stamp, stamp any moment; and the trees looked touch-able!
She was a little stuck with the top part of the box (the sky) before she said, she wants to “write” Happy Easter. I ‘suggested’ that instead of writing, for that would be one-dimensional, why not make the letters pop, too. So, we cut out the letters from a sheet that was part of an old board game; and popped them up on small pieces of sponge and bottle caps.
Pari painted the sides of the box in hues of green.
But, the creation didn’t stop there. We were so fascinated by this scene that she and I made our own stories interpreting it and narrated to each other.
- Here’s a useful link with tons of videos on how to make your own shadow boxes. Enjoy!
- And, a really fun idea to do for Easter. Send hidden messages inside an egg!
- Some more props and thoughts on storytelling