If you glance through the liturgy of the hours and the divine office, you will notice the high frequency that the word light is used.  Of course, it is in the context of prayer, and it is a key characteristic of Jesus Christ and of all the persons of the Holy Trinity.   St. Augustine also makes use of light and expands it from the light of being to the light of conscience, the light of faith, and the light of glory.  Light is at the very essence of the human soul.  St. Theresa Benedicta (Edith Stein) develops this in her book The Science of the Cross, where she recognizes that this inner light is the essence of the human soul. This light is the inner region of the soul where God dwells and unfortunately the place from which we as human beings tend to be exiled.  Which means we are exiled from our selves.  But Christ wants us home, to return to abide with Him forever.  God is light. And so are His children. 

Light in the physical world is the closest analogy to the human mind that is found.  Aristotle recognized that sight is the most liberated of the senses and the sense that is closest to the nature of the human mind, especially what he called the Agent Intellect or as Plato (Aristotle’s teacher) called it “the light of Being”.  This light illumines our minds and allows us to search for and then gaze out upon the world of being that is behind and beyond the world of appearances. This interior light illumines insights. Even in modern life, we still talk about the light bulb going on when we understand something. This philosophical discovery was rooted in a more primordial historical moment in which the analogy of physical light prepared the human mind for a discovery of itself. Physical light which helps us to see provides an analogical opening to discover the light that is within.  The same that happened in history happens to children.

So, the point today is to encourage the development of activities and materials that facilitate an attunement to physical light and the darkness caused by its absence.  There are materials of course that help children to develop nuances in colors.  I have not seen anything that deals with light as such.  I do remember how one’s shadow is an interest to children.  Think of how one can cast a shadow with shapes from one’s hand upon a wall. Or think of how one can perform a shadow play in front of a sheet.  Silhouettes are also an interest. Some paintings manifest an interesting set of insights into light and darkness (eg. Caravaggio). One could also look at how animals and plants use or are found in light and darkness.  Games of hiding also make use of being hidden and found (similar to what happens with light and darkness). Perhaps have them shine a flashlight out into the sky at night.  Notice it looks dark until something appears in front of it.  As one moves to more explanatory sensitive periods, then light can be explored in terms of wavelengths and sources of energy, along with what happens in different ranges of light or its absence. One could have some singing around a bonfire with songs that make use of light, or even some story telling in which the kind of darkness surrounding the fire allows for a vivid use of the imagination.  If you try something, or already use something, please send it my way (dpf@naturaled.org).