Make Your Own Shadow Puppet Theatre

Silhouettes of the characters from the gruffly are cut from black paper. The image is overlaid with the post title and brand logo.

In November as part of T’s home education, we spent a couple of weeks exploring and investigating light and shadow. As part of this, we created our own shadow puppet theatre! Here’s how we did it.

Choose a story

First thing is to pick which story you want to perform at your theatre. This can be a story you know well, or one you make up! They key thing is that you need to know which characters need to be included and any scenery that you might like for the story. T chose to retell a modern classic – The Gruffalo!

Create your puppets

Draw the outlines of your characters on black paper or card, cut them out and fasten them to wooden skewers or lolly sticks. Remember, they do not need any facial features etc, as only their shadow will be seen!

Make the theatre

Next step is the theatre! For this you will need an empty box (a large shoebox works well), some white baking parchment or tissue paper, scissors, paint and glue.

  1. Cut out the base of the box leaving a border. This will be the front of your theatre.
  2. Glue around the inside of the border and line with baking parchment or tissue paper.
  3. Use the cardboard offcuts to create theatre curtains. Paint, and when dry, fix to the front of the box.
  4. Choose any scenery which might be appropriate for your story. Cut out from black paper, and fix to the baking parchment, on the inside of the box.
  5. Use a lamp or torch to light the box from behind.
  6. On with the show! Demonstrate to your child how they need to stay out of the way of the light in order to ensure that their own shadow is not projected in to the theatre! Also remind them that, unless they are flying, characters need to be kept level with the base of the box.

What they are learning:

This activity is great for:

  • promoting language and storytelling skills
  • developing scientific inquiry
  • practising careful, planned design
  • developing creativity

Since your child has worked so hard creating their puppets and their shadow puppet theatre, why not get them to do a show? It could be a younger sibling, some friends, or some family! T performed her show over Skype to her grandparents!

Don’t go yet!

If you liked this activity, do have a look at some of our other storytelling or science activities!

And image of the gruffly and mouse in the shadow theatre. It is overlaid with the post title and brand logo.

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