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How to make a Shadow Puppet Show at Home

Kiddi Caru - 8th April 2020

This activity is suitable for children of all ages and develops their creativity and imagination, as well as their literacy and motor skills and coordination.

First, you need to create your puppets

What you will need:

  1. Craft materials
  2. Lolly pop sticks, twigs or straws to affix your puppet

Ask your little one what they want their puppet show to be about. You could re-create their favourite story. Make puppets of family members to take them on adventures. Or just let their imagination take you wherever they want to go.

What to use?
Whilst spending a lot of time inside, why not use a selection of recyclable materials? Such as, cardboard boxes for your child to practise their fine motor skills by drawing the outline of their puppet and then carefully cut it out using child scissors. They can decorate them and add features, including hair and clothes using different materials from sweet wrappers to tissue paper.

Or, whilst in your garden or during a walk, collect a range of natural materials to create your puppets? Select a variety of leaves, cones, twigs and petals to create your puppets at home.

You can create as many puppets as you like, but as a minimum it is best to have at least two puppets per person. This will encourage your child’s coordination and listening skills to know when to make their puppet move within the story.

Second, set up your stage

What you will need:

  1. Two chairs
  2. Blankets
  3. Pillows

You may recognise what these items are needed for, from your childhood – yes. You are  going to build a fort! Of course, you can include a lot of other items, from favourite toys that your child may like to include, to books and music to read and play along with your puppet show.

It is best to put the chairs back to back with a large gap, next to a wall to create the back drop to your puppet show. Then cover with blankets and fill the space underneath with pillows to make nice a cosy.

Encourage your little one to get involved with the construction of the fort. Tell them what you are trying to create and see how they suggest solving the problems of where to put it and what to use to build it, working together to set the scene for your puppet show!

Third, hit the lights!

Once your puppets are dry and your fort is built – it is time to turn the lights out and set up your torch to shine against the wall.

Make your shadow puppet show as animated as possible with different voices and encourage your little ones to get involved too, acting out their characters.

Also, discuss with your little one how the shadows look. Do the shadows look bigger than the puppets depending how close or far away they are from the torch? Can you see different colours in the shadows where the light shines through the sweet wrappers or leaves?

This activity can be recreated over and over with different puppets, or if your child is older, why not try different hand movements to try and make different animals in the shadows?

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