As our younger children joined the older ones in adding to and enhancing our The Den Experiment experiment, quickly learning the technique of building with bamboo cane, zip ties, clothes pins and fabric, in the far corner of the room another kind of "fort" was taking shape.
At the UnConference I met a puppeteer named Alison McGowan (she doesn't seem to have a web presence or else I'd link to her work) who is doing incredible work with young children, using a darkened room and every day translucent and shiny objects along with many of these little "push lights" . . .
. . . to create magical interactive spaces of light and shadow. Now we don't have the luxury of a whole room that we can darken at Woodland Park, but I thought we could create a mini-version by closing off the bottom of our loft with a piece of orange felt.
We already have mirrors under there. We added an old opaque projector with a light bed that can be opened and closed, then a few push lights, and a collection of objects that we thought would interact well with the light sources.
Under the lower part of the loft, we added several electric tea candles. When 2-year-old River first peeked under there, his first reaction was to say, "hot." It took him awhile to realize they weren't real candles.
I figured there would be a great deal of crawling in an out, but I'd underestimated the draw this new space would have for the kids. There was almost always at least a half dozen kids under there during the whole of our free play time. There was no way to get my big adult body in there for photos!
Alison uses drinking classes, plastic funnels, shiny beads and all sorts of other items in her work. Time for a bit of scavenging.