Making shadow puppets

We accidentally ended up at a great activity session at our local library recently. We were just there for our usual weekly visit and had no idea that it would be heaving with children busy crafting shadow puppets on sticks. And, even better, they had set up a small puppet ‘theatre’ to show off the puppet creations and record short action sequences. Well, of course we had to join in!

Making shadow puppets

ToddlerGirl loved it and was very proud of her puppets, even queuing patiently (or as patiently as a two and half year old can…) to take her turn at the puppet theatre. Seeing how fascinated she was by it all, I decided to carry on the activity once we got back home.

I cut a few simple shapes out of a cereal box – very simple, as my artistic skills are not wonderful! We had a couple of fish, a butterfly and a bird. ToddlerGirl then decorated them with a few bits and pieces I had in our craft cupboard: sequins, torn paper, feathers etc. Once she had finished, I taped craft sticks onto the back of each one and our stick puppets were ready.

Shadow puppets montage

Next, we needed a shadow box theatre. I used the rest of the cereal box, cutting a piece out of the centre of the front and sticking a sheet of white paper over this. It was pretty rudimentary but I didn’t want to spend too much time making something until I could test whether it worked and whether ToddlerGirl was interested in it!

I then stuck the box onto a small coffee table with blu-tak to make sure it stayed standing, and popped a torch on another table a short distance behind. Lo and behold, we had a shadow box to act as our puppet theatre!

Shadow puppets montage

It worked brilliantly and ToddlerGirl and I took it in turns to wave the stick puppets around while the other one watched the shadows dancing across the paper. ToddlerGirl had so much fun with this and got completely absorbed in playing with the puppets and watching the shadows. We acted out a few ‘scenes’ with the puppets and I kept the shadow box up for the rest of the day, so she could return to it when she wanted.

The puppets have had a lot of play value, as she has been incorporating them into lots of other games. I’ll definitely revisit both puppet making and shadow puppets with her as this proved to be an easy and entertaining activity for us both.

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