We love Phyllis Root's Lucia and the Light. It's a great choice for a bedtime story as the nights draw in. It's got it all; snowy Norwegian mountains, dark versus light, warmth versus cold, good versus evil. And trolls. Brilliant.
At the Geffrye Museum today, I told my own version of this folk tale during two very busy Nursery Rhyme Time sessions. To help bring it to life I used candles, lamps, a warm white cat (a furry hot water bottle), a winter hat, mittens, boots, a tinderbox and a glittering ball as the sun. The children - all five years old or under - played their part too, with enthusiastic participation; hugging the cat, joining in with the story's actions and songs, getting properly scared by the trolls, and cheering on Lucia in her quest to find the long-lost sun.
Then we explored light, transparency and translucency further - and got well and truly gluey - making these sweet carry-home tea-light lamps from empty water bottle bases. We offered pieces of colourful cellophane, punchinella, Halloween sequins, LED tea-lights and plenty of PVA, and then let the children do the rest.
The water bottles were prepared before the sessions; their bases were trimmed and hole-punched, ribbons tied and then put inside out of the way so as not to get too gluey.
As ever, Buddy and Daisy helped me test out the activity beforehand. Here, Daisy is exploring the semi-transparency of cellophane. Buddy is not convinced.
Daisy quite liked getting gluey and got stuck in straight away but Buddy played around with a car for a long time before actually sticking anything on his bottle. However, both were motivated to finish their lamps when I showed them the twinkling LED tea-lights that would sit inside them.
In the museum sessions we gave each child a drawing of a mountain scene to colour, to reflect both their favourite part of Lucia's story and Mary Grandpre's beautiful illustrations. Buddy and Daisy tried this too; though Buddy needed lots of help getting started. I gave them chalk pastels and showed them how they could blur and mix them on the paper to create different effects. When Buddy realised it could be messy and smudgy - he had a go, enjoying the sensation of spreading colour with this fingers.
Daisy's gorgeous pink and golden dawn contrasts superbly with Buddy's darkly purple and blue night time - and it didn't surprise me at all that they chose to illustrate opposing parts of the story. Nor that Buddy needed lots of encouragement to put pastel to paper. They are themselves as different as night and day.
And of course I wouldn't have them any other way.