Activity inspired by the early days of cinema and, in particular, by the first optical toys that were decisive in its origins. At the same time, this educational project was born within the framework of the exhibition neste momento: (i.e. in this time:), which took place at the RAC Foundation of Pontevedra (Spain) in collaboration with the research group MODO (i.e. Ways of Artistic Knowledge) of the Fine Arts Faculty of this same city, which is my current workplace for 5 years now. In addition to it, this activity has been specifically designed and addressed to 3 groups of pupils (from 5 to 12 years old) of the cultural management centre ‘Taller abierto’. The calendar, carried out in December 2014, was as follows:


Group 1_ On Tuesday, 9, from 4.15 pm to 5.45 pm.
Group 2_ On Tuesday, 9, from 6.00 pm to 7.30 pm.
Group 3_ On Wednesday, 10, from 6.00 pm to 7.30 pm.


In total, one hour and a half for each session. An experience that we developed in the exhibition room -of the above mentioned foundation- in order to establish links with the current exhibition project: 5 works from the collection RAC x 28 artists/researchers from the Universidade de Vigo. Each one of the 3 groups of children including no more than 8 of them.



Being more precise, among the contents considered in this activity, the following may be included:


– A brief historical approach to the origins of cinema through the different inventions created from the mid-seventeenth century, besides highlighting the millennial Chinese shadow puppetry (1): the magic lantern, the thaumatrope, praxinoscope and flipbook among others.
– At a procedural level, the construction of one of the optical toys mentioned in the previous point, a thaumatrope.
– From a conceptual point of view, the ‘persistence of vision’ as a visual phenomenon closely related to cinema (the succession of frames and stop motion).


As specific objectives the following ones should be noted:


– Understanding the appearance of the technique of cinema and its technological evolution in its origins.
– Interrelating the fixed picture with the moving image.
– Favouring the creation of moving images.
– Knowing vocabulary related to the first optical toys and early cinema.
– Being able to detect and unravel the optical effects that occur in the different toys.


The applied methodology was flexible, being adapted to the development of the skills and knowledge of the students, since there were different ages with its corresponding maturational evolution.
The introduction of the different contents was carried out through an experiential learning, that is, the child could investigate directly how each optical toy worked drawing their own conclusions. This way, a creative and active methodology inspired by the theories of meaningful learning (2) was highlighted, thus promoting the construction of new knowledge by the students. Through verbal communication, using group discussion as a fundamental tool, they could share feelings and deductions in common. Among all, a model of cooperative learning was consolidated.


In conclusion, in this activity some part of the art collection of RAC Foundation has been brought closer to a children’s audience. In parallel, the university (specifically the Fine Arts Faculty at the Universidade de Vigo, Spain) interacts with society. Somehow, these two institutions become more accessible through this kind of projects by sharing their knowledge and artistic and cultural heritage.


(1) CHALLIER, M.: Érase una vez el cine (1997), SM Publishing (CESMA), Barcelona, Spain.
(2) Meaningful learning is, according to the American theorist David Ausubel, the type of learning in which a student relates new information with the old one he/she already has, readjusting and rebuilding both pieces of information in this process.


RAC Foundation
Padre Sarmiento street, 41, Pontevedra (Spain).
9th and 10th of December, 2014.


Activities programme of the project Neste momento: (in this time:)+
Poster_ Once upon a time, cinema… optical toys+
Forum of Art, Culture and Education, Pontevedra (Spain)+