A Change of Scene

Science/Art

Children will have fun creating an optical illusion that will provoke thoughtful discussion about the concepts of big and little.

What You Need

What to Do

  1. Begin by reminding children that whether or not something looks big or little can depend largely on what is around it. You might give them an example, such as a cat may look little next to a person but large next to a mouse. Encourage children to give you some other examples.

  2. Tell children that they are going to create their own optical illusion by making something look big and then changing what's around it to make it look little.

  3. Distribute copies of the Boy Cutout or Girl Cutout and tell children they can draw themselves or someone else on it. Then have them cut it out.

  4. Distribute copies of the School Supplies and some construction paper and have children staple or glue the picture to the construction paper. Repeat this procedure with the City Scene.

  5. Now children have two "scenes" in which to place the figures they cut out earlier. Have each child place his or her child cutout in front of, or next to, the School Supplies scene. Ask them how the child looks. Allow them some time to play with the scene. Encourage them to talk about how they might feel if they were this little. Then have children place their cutouts in front of, or next to, the city skyline. Ask them how the child looks now. Encourage children to move their cutouts back and forth between the scenes and note when the cutout looks big and when it looks little.

Teaching Options

  • You may want to distribute all the Child cutouts. Then staple the School Supplies and City scenes to the construction paper yourself, while children color the child cutouts.

  • You may want to distribute two Child cutouts to each child and encourage them to draw a happy face on one of the cutouts and a more fretful face on the other. Seeing the fretful-looking cutout among the large school supplies and a happy-looking figure in the city may help to reinforce the visual effect.

  • To vary the visual effects, you may want to have children cut off the top of the page of the School Supplies and City Scene. They can cut along the general outline across the top of the page. Then glue or staple the bottom and sides, but not the top, of each scene to construction paper. This will allow children to place their child cutouts in front of or behind the two scenes.

  • These scenes can be used as story starters. Children may enjoy making up a story about the problems of being a giant in a city, or the challenges of being very little in school.


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