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Shadow Puppet Storytelling For Kids

Shadow puppetry is a wonderful performance art form that allows children to bring out their creativity, and builds many skills including language, drama, motor, and kinesthetic skills. It is also known as shadow play and is an ancient form of storytelling, still popular in many countries as a living folk tradition. Flat articulated cut-out figures (shadow puppets) are held and moved in front of a light source to create shadows or silhouettes on a translucent screen. There are traditional shadow puppetry art forms in all the southern states of India.

Watch the popular story of Three Billy Goats Gruff told through shadow puppetry:

Wonderful isn't it? And it can be done at home, with your child, creating a beautiful and entertaining art project.

What do you need?

A shadow puppet theatre, a light source (like an LED torch) and flat cardboard cutout puppets with sticks. Instead of puppet cutouts, you can also use small toys and your hands to create shadows.

1. Shadow Theatre

Here is a great article to make a basic theatre at home: Basic DIY Shadow Puppet Theater Box

If you wish to buy a readymade one, here is one available at Amazon India.

If you are keen on a bigger theatre, you can go for this method:

This is our version, made at home:

2. Puppets

We can use our hands to create the shadow characters and props, or even use kids' toys which are small in size. If you are up for it, you can make puppets using cardboard or craft paper. You can use coloured cellophane paper in the cut-out shapes of the puppets, making them colourful. Check out this video:

How can shadow puppetry be used for learning?

A shadow puppet show involves storytelling and thus enhances the spoken language skills as well as the creativity of a child. Apart from these, you will also find many opportunities to teach the child about light and shadow using this creative art form. You can teach your child about special effects (like a much bigger shadow than the actual object) and how to use lighting to create different effects.

Check out some ideas in the video below:

Shadow puppetry encourages children to be creative and brings out many artistic skills. You child can stage their favourite story using shadow puppets, as well as make their own stories. Performing in front of family and friends teaches children dramatic skills. Of course, as the play becomes more elaborate, you will have the opportunity to teach your child to write the script, dialogues and choose music to be played in the background.

I hope you will try this out. Don't forget to share your creations and activities on our Facebook Group. Here is the lovely story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, told through shadow play.


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