{Toddler Explorations} Overhead Projector Play

After months of searching Craigslist and several dead end leads, we finally have an old (but functional!) overhead projector to call our very own. I started looking for one after seeing how Kate's two children were exploring color, light and shadow on her blog An Everyday Story. It seemed like something that Silas would really enjoy, so I was excited to share it with him.

We started with four transparent containers filled with different colored glass gems. He liked dumping them out, refilling them and dumping them all over again. He was not particularly interested in sorting them or any other such structured activity.

He asked me to bring it out every single day last week and I did. I gave him the same materials each time. There was a lot of creative play going on. Most of the time he pretended he was making sandwiches.

What I (foolishly) didn't anticipate was how much time he would want/need to explore the actual projector itself, let alone interact with the light. He was very interested in all the buttons and knobs and the fan inside. In all honesty, these pictures don't show it, but that's what he spent the greatest portion of his time doing; exploring the machine itself.

He had a few brief moments when he noticed the projection on the wall and interacted with it. He caught a glimpse of the shadow of his fingers as he opened and closed his hand. He opened them over and over while looking at the projected image. He then moved outside the range of the light and made the same motion. When he didn't see the projected image anymore, he just sort of shrugged and moved on, so I don't know that he made the connection between what was going on in the projected image and what was above the light. 

On our third day of playing, he wanted to match the color of individual gems to their projections on the wall. Here he's holding up a green gem and placing it over the projection of another green gem and saying, "same!"  

We're going very slow with this. Something magical happens when you pull the blinds in the middle of the day and flip on the overhead projector. I want him to have the opportunity to experience it all in his own time.

Rachel over at Racheous has gathered all the fabulous OHP inspiration out there and put it into a very helpful post. Check it out here; it is incredibly helpful!


  1. What fun! your house is so full of creativity !

  2. What a great idea! I was wondering if he was interested in exploring the machine, I know that would have been Reece for sure :)

  3. 3M Overhead Projector Model 213 3M 78-6969-9672-3 ENX Lamp model HA6000-R, 360W/82V