December 21 is the Winter Solstice—the shortest day of the year. What better day to celebrate National Flashlight Day? To cheer up an otherwise darkish day and in honor of the flashlight, grab some bright lights and check out these fun flashlight play ideas.
Shadow Puppet Theater: Make stick puppets (as easy as cutting out a shape and taping it to a popsicle stick, skewer, or straw). Create a theater by hanging white fabric across a door frame and covering the bottom of the frame with something dark to create a puppet theater. Add some bright light and perform a play with the puppets. What a fun way for your family to engage in story telling!
Hand Shadow Puppets: For these puppets, you won’t need a theater—just a light to put behind your hands and a plain surface where you can cast your shadow. Use shadow characters to tell a story, or just enjoy learning how to make and animate these fun shadows together.
Constellation Flashlight Disks: I love these kinds of fabulous opportunities to combine learning and play! The creator of this activity suggests picking constellations that have fun stories behind them. My daughter is into Native American stories and loves folk tales, so I googled “constellation stories from around the world” to learn more about different star myths. Of course, around here were could also just make a Maui’s Hook (a constellation also known as Scorpio) disk and sing You’re Welcome.
Flashlight Word Game: I have a kindergartner who’s having a blast with sight words right now. This flashlight word search game gives her another way to practice, and it’s so much more engaging than worksheets! Another variation is to use a small flashlight with a narrow beam to hunt for and highlight sight words in books.
More Flashlight Fun
- Flashlight Tag: Flashlight tag is a bit of misnomer as the version I’m most familiar with is more like “Flashlight Hide-and-Seek.” One person is “It” and gets the flashlight. The others hide in the dark until the person who’s It shines the flashlight on them. Another variation is to play tag using only flashlights. One person’s light is It and they try to catch the other lights. This would be super fun with different colored lights!
- Catch the Light: It works for cats. And my dog. So why not kids? Shine the flashlight around various places, and when you stop the beam somewhere, the kids have to try to catch it by jumping on it.
- Flashlight Dance: There are two ways to dance with your flashlights. One is to lay on the ground and aim your lights at the ceiling or wall, moving your lights to the music you’re playing. The other is a bit more energetic. Arm everyone with a flashlight to wave around, turn on the music, and dance! Think of it as creative a live disco ball. (Also, there are probably more than two ways to dance with your flashlights—be creative!)
- I Spy in the Dark: This game is for older kids—or at least younger ones who don’t still get frustrated at straight-up I Spy. In this game, the lights are off and children can use a flashlight to look around and try to guess what you’ve said you spy.
- Musical Flashlight: Like Hot Potato, but with a flashlight. The person holding the flashlight when the music stops is out. Continue until you have a winner. You could also play like musical chairs, where there is one fewer flashlight than there are people. Whoever doesn’t have a flashlight when the music stops is out. Take away a flashlight, and repeat until you have a winner.
Enjoy some flashlight free-play, too. Let your kids experiment with what happens to the light when they shine it on different surfaces or use it over different distances. What happens to shadows if they move the light closer to an object or farther away from it? It’s amazing what children can discover when they play.
Happy Solstice/National Flashlight Day!