Flashlight Fun: 3 Creative Activities to Fascinate Your Kids

Do your kids love flashlights?

Are you looking for some fun activities to bring out the creative side of your kids?

If so, keep reading to discover three fun indoor/outdoor flashlight activities that go far beyond finding your way through the dark.

Learn 3 fun flashlight activities that help you connect and fascinate your children with light, fairy tales and kid kodes.

Why Flashlights?

There’s something magical about flashlights. Kids find them fascinating.

Maybe it’s the sense of control or safety that comes from something so small it fits in your pocket. Maybe it’s the ability to create a spotlight in the darkness just for you.

I’ve always loved flashlights.

Growing up, my next-door neighbor was a battery salesman. He would come home from business trips and the kids in the neighborhood would revel in the spoils. He would give us batteries.

two lights

Shine the light on fun flashlight activities with your kids.

Every so often, he would toss us flashlights with his company logo emblazoned on the handle.

With these flashlights we explored the woods at the bottom of the hill, told scary stories under blankets and found our way home when our baseball games lasted after dark.

Allow me to shine the fine halogen beam on three new ideas to fascinate your children.

#1: Create Flashlight Fairy Tales

I have connected with each of our four children by putting them to bed at night. When I’m not traveling, I get the privilege of hugging, kissing and praying with our kids before the lights go out.

When our oldest, Elisa, was little, we played around with a flashlight one night. I clicked the button and shined it on one of her stuffed animals. Next, I talked in a silly voice.

Then, I clicked the light off, pointed the light to where I thought another stuffed animal might be, and clicked it on again. Another silly voice. Elisa loved it.

After a few lines back and forth between animals, she grabbed the flashlight from me, animated another animal and created a silly voice adding another facet to the story.

In the video above, my youngest daughter, Meileah, and I tell a flashlight fairy tale. True confession: we had never done this before. (I know… slacker Dad.) Now she wants us to tell another one.

You can tell a flashlight fairy tale next time you tuck your kids in.

How to Get the Most Out of Flashlight Fairy Tales

  • Have no expectations. You are not writing the next Newbery Medal-winning children’s story, which will be illustrated by a famous watercolor artist and will sell enough copies to put your children through college. (By the way, I’ve never thought that for one second. No, not me.) Your only goal is to make a connection right now, right here.
  • When it’s your turn, ask questions. A question will allow your child to deepen the plot. Your job is to add a little tension to the story.
  • Avoid epic length. Tell the story as long as both of you are fully engaged.
  • End on a cliff-hanger. When it’s time to go, don’t cut the story off with, “And they lived happily ever after.” Say something like, “And Edward looked out the door and said…” Then click off the light.
  • Continue the story the next night.

The story doesn’t have to make sense.

This is a time for you to watch your child’s mind at work and hear his or her heart. I encourage you to spend more time looking at your child’s face than looking where the flashlight shines.

#2: Shine Some Morse Code, Kid Style

Long before we texted LOL on smartphones, Samuel Morse did the world a favor creating a way to communicate with flashing lights or beeping tones. It was (and is) so much more than SOS.

Now, 256-bit encrypted telecommunications bounce off geosynchronous satellites, but during World War II, Morse code was the pinnacle of communication and essential to our soldiers and our allies.

use flashlight for morse code

Use flashlights to communicate in Morse Code.

Morse code is also a fun way to communicate with your children using flashlights.

Most flashlights, even the cheapest ones, are equipped with a button that can help you send dots and dashes.

flashlight

Push the red button for Morse code. Most newer flashlights have a 3-way button (off, Morse, on). Image source: iStockPhoto.

Some lights have a push-button that allows you to tap the button without turning the light on. Others have a three part switch—off, Morse, on. Play around with your flashlights to learn their quirks.

In movies and newsreel footage, we see the telegrapher click his machine faster than a coffee-drinking teenager can text with a smartphone. We see the signalmen on boats flash the lights so fast that we worry what we will miss if we blink.

To connect with your kids, slow down. Speed is not the issue. I recommend that you create a few codes just for your family to learn and use.

international morse code

You don’t have to learn the entire alphabet. Try to learn a few key phrases that are important to your family. Image from Wikipedia and available for use under Creative Commons.

Sample Codes

I love you

•• ••—• — • — —

We can never tell our children these words too often. This should be the first code we flash.

SOS

••• — — — •••

Preparing our children for emergencies is important, too. If ever lost, this simple code could get someone’s attention and bring help. Or they could just flash it in the house when Algebra II is inducing a headache.

M.A.D.

— — •— —••

Author Ron Hutchcraft used to drop his kids off at school and say, “Go M.A.D. today.” He longed for his children to make a difference (M.A.D.). I picked up this practice with my children and still use the phrase for my two oldest when they leave the house to return to college.

No flashlight? How about using your smartphone?


Here’s an iPhone app that does Morse code


And if you want to cheat, there’s this iPhone app

Do you use special phrases in your home? How could you render them in Morse code?

Do you have a child who loves to latch onto new ideas? If so, make sure you keep pace with his or her Morse code aptitude. Let Kid Kodes be a way to strengthen and deepen your relationship, not a dividing point.

#3: Make Silhouette Stories

It can be so much fun to play with light. The closer an object—or a child—is to a light source, the smaller the silhouette projected on a wall or screen. As the object moves away from the light, the object grows larger in silhouette.

Tell stories using silhouettes. They’ll come alive and seem bigger than life.

kids silhouette

Kids love to play with their shadows. Image source: iStockPhoto.

I’ll never forget a dance recital where one of our daughters and her class danced fully in silhouette.

Stagehands lowered a screen in place at the front of the stage then illuminated the screen from the back of the stage. The dancers entered and formed lines. As one line moved upstage and another downstage, the dancers changed size on the screen.

The effect was powerful and mesmerizing. Turns and kicks were magnified. Peels were dramatic. Colors changes only enhanced the story told.

Silhouette dance troupe from America’s Got Talent 2012 “What a Wonderful World”

Silhouette dancing is beautiful. Silhouette play acting is fun for everyone.

Make a silhouette screen for your kids. Even better, add a third dimension to the fun when you create a fort of bedspreads and pillows behind your screen.

How to Create a Home Silhouette Screen

  • Hang up a bedsheet vertically. In our house, there is always a microphone boom stand around to help. You might need to use an adjustable shower curtain rod or other means to suspend the sheet.
  • Light the stage. Place a large flashlight, like a lantern light that runs on a 6-volt battery, on the floor pointing at the screen. Leave at least six feet between the light and the screen.
  • Experiment with stuffed animals, objects, balls, children telling stories, dancing, goofing off and more between the light and the screen.

Your kids will take turns playing behind the screen and watching the size-changing action in front of the screen. You will marvel at how the imaginations of your children come alive.

Some Final Thoughts

Flashlights can add fun and adventure to your family togetherness. They can also be tools for building deeper relationships.

two flashlights in hand

Use flashlights to foster togetherness.

Imagine a day in the not-too-distant future when your child will ask you to drop her off a few blocks from her destination to not mess up her arrival. You flash your headlights • • •• — • — • — —. She smiles, knowing that you love her and protected her coolness at the same time.

Illuminate Us

What do you think? How have you used flashlights in your home? What Kid Kodes have you created? Please share your observations in the comments section below. I’d love to see how you light up your family, so please post a picture, too.

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, W. Mark Whitlock

W. Mark Whitlock is a best-selling author and consultant who helps others apply creativity to everyday life. Mark and his wife live with their four children in Franklin, Tennessee. Other posts by »


  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ Jennifer Ballard

    Thanks for the unique and creative ideas, Mark! I can’t wait to do a flashlight fairy tale. Thanks for contributing to My Kids’ Adventures!

  • EmilyQuestions

    Love the message “Go M.A.D. today” and am going to use that w/ @MrBoy! Thanks, Mark!

  • Carlisa

    I didn’t know there was a morse code element on most flashlights! Thanks for broadening my horizons!!

  • wmarkwhitlock

    When I’ve used this phrase, I’ve watched our kids pause for a second, close the car door, and go into school, work, or church with a little more purpose than usual. Let me know what happens when you use it.

  • wmarkwhitlock

    You’re welcome. Every flashlight is a little different. Experiment with yours before you play around with Morse Code.

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