It’s easy to make shadow puppets for your own puppet show. We use cardstock or dark construction paper, and mount the puppets on craft sticks, straws or dowels.
For 3 – 5 year old children, it’s easiest if you draw the shapes and they cut. Older children may be able to draw their own shapes… but it can be hard for them to understand that the only thing that matters is the outline / silhouette. It may help to show them sample puppets to give kids a better sense of what kinds of designs are possible. Here are samples from our class:
To do a puppet show, you can simply turn off the lights, hold a puppet in one hand and a flashlight in the other – shine the light on the puppet and you’ll see the shadow on the wall behind. You could also hang a sheet in a doorway – have the light on in the room where the puppeteer is so they cast shadows, and the audience in the other room that’s dark. Or…
Optional Arts Extension – Shadow Puppet Theatre
Make a shadow puppet theatre using a cereal box and either waxed paper or printer paper. There are great how-to tutorials both at Jimmie Lanley’s Hub Page (which also includes links to other info about shadow puppets) and on the website for Kix cereal. Here is Teacher Monisha’s theater and shadow puppets for Teacher Cym’s story of Perseus and Andromeda that we tell when we study Stars and Constellations. You can see the stage from the front, backstage, the set-up with cell phone lighting, the puppet show and all the puppets, front and back view.
And here is the video of the show:
- More info on shadow puppets at Coolest Family on the Block.
- Here is a video which shows another method for making a shadow theater, and shows how to make shadow puppet butterfly with translucent tissue paper areas on the wings, and make a jointed wombat that moves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzRRP5mFeR0. Here are two other videos to show slightly more sophisticated puppets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSVd_0AKTKc and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSVd_0AKTKc
- You can watch The Very Hungry Caterpillar at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5W87C_9osQ or a kid-created shadow play at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqzv162GBWg Or, for a beautiful work of art, watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR6_m_qXbKg&t=215s Or just search for shadow puppetry!
In a separate post, I have LOTS more light and shadow experiments.