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Milla and the Magic Lantern

It's still dark outside when Milla gets to kindergarten. It's just after seven o’clock and, just like always, she's the first child to arrive. Her mom works as a nurse and has to go to work very early. Milla yawns as she goes to see Saskia. "Good morning, little Dormouse!", says her teacher. Milla's mom laughs: "Yes, bedtime was a little later than usual last night." "But it's still dark outside, so it's ok to still be a bit tired," replies Saskia. Milla gives her mom a kiss and waves goodbye to her.

"Come on, Milla, let's get everything ready for our craft project. We're going to make lanterns as window pictures." "Sounds like fun!" cries Milla as she starts to feel a little bit more awake. Milla carries a box of colorful candles to the craft table. Saskia puts a stack of white paper next to it. "How is this supposed to work? We can't make lanterns from just candles and paper, can we?" asks Milla. "We're going to light a candle later, and then drip the warm wax gently onto the paper," says Saskia. "You can make a picture with lots of different colors. And when the wax is dry, you can hold the paper up to the window, and you will see how beautiful it shines." Milla is very excited.

The rest of the children start to slowly arrive. Milla tells them that Saskia is going to make crafts with them today, and everyone is happy. Just Mali is looking glum and tired. "What's going on?" asks Milla. "I've been dreaming of a ghoulish monster," says Mali. "It hides under my bed and it crawls out at night, when it's dark. I know exactly what you mean. My mom had to go to parents' evening yesterday at school, and dad was away on business, and grandma couldn't come to look after me because she has a cough. So my big sister tucked me into bed. Lena is 9 already, so she can do that. But she didn't see the monster of course." "Did your mom come home quickly?" asks Milla. "Yes, yes, but the dream monster wasn't there anymore," replies Mali.

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"I've been having bad dreams ever since my dad moved out," says Milla. "But then he gave me a night light: It's an owl that glows softly. And it reminds that he still loves me very much, even though he doesn't live with us anymore." "Really? An owl night light?" "That's nice!" says Mali. "Do you know what? Until you get a night light, we can make a magic lantern," suggests Milla. "The window pictures that Saskia is going to make with us, they don't light up at night, but they might help anyway. Shall we start?" asks Milla. Mali nods and after the morning break they're off.

Milla and Mali get going. It's very easy, like Saskia said, and once the wax drops are dry, the girls just need to cut out a frame for the window picture. Saskia helps them out a bit. Then it's Lilli and Imke's turn. Once Matze, Felicitas, Elise and the other children have also finished, they all hang the pictures on the windows together. The pictures start to shine in all of their colors straight away.

Nina has drawn lantern pictures on dark construction paper with the younger children. The colors shimmer beautifully on these pictures too. Now, the two teachers put their chairs together and the children sit down in a circle. "The days get shorter in fall," explains Nina. "The reason for that is because the Earth is tilted towards the sun. The area that the sun illuminates in the summer is greater than the area it can reach in winter. Therefore, it's colder in winter than in summer. But let's talk about light and everything that brightness brings. Who knows what you can do in the morning and evening when the days are shorter and it stays dark longer?" she asks the children. "You can turn on the light, that's obvious," said Matze. "I think candles are so beautiful," said Imke. "We have one on the table that we light at dinnertime." "That's right. Candles create beautiful light!" says Nina. "Where else do we see lit candles?"

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"At birthday parties!" cries Felicitas. She remembers exactly, because she celebrated her fourth birthday a few weeks ago. "There are candles at church and at the cemetery," says Mali. "When we visit my grandpa's grave, we always light a candle for him." "Yes, that's a very old tradition. That's how we remember the dead. Think about what we're going to celebrate in a few weeks." "Christmas! There are candles on the advent wreath and on the Christmas tree!" says Lilli. "And there are candles sometimes in the lanterns at the Lantern Parade. Or sometimes they hold up candles! And I even have a magic lantern," says Milla and tells the children all about her special night light. "That's a nice idea," says Nina. "You can see that light has an important meaning for us; a night light means you are safe in the dark. We remember those who have passed by lighting  candles and we feel comforted. The lights on the Christmas tree, whether they're real or electric candles, guarantee a particularly festive mood. And there are the lights in the lanterns we carry through the streets. We are going to practice our songs again in the next few days," says the teacher.

As Mali is picked up by her mother, she tugs on Saskia' sweater and asks: "Can I take my window picture home to use it as a magic lantern?" "Do you need a magic lantern?" asks Saskia. Mali nods, "Yes, I do today. And I want to have a magic lantern night light like Milla's night". Mali is pleased when Saskia gives her the picture window. "You can bring it back for our window once you get a magic lantern night light. Keep it at home until next week when our lantern procession takes place, ok?" Mali nods and waves goodbye to Milla smiling. "You're going to have lovely dream tonight!" whispers Milla in Mali's ear, feeling happy that she could help her friend.

You can re-enact the story with the Little Friends dolls or even make your own window pictures. That's why we've included the Instructions for making lanterns as window pictures, that tells you how to make them, step-by-step.

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