Shadow play

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By Nina Filipekfreelance education writer and supply teacher

Explore lots of different ways of playing with shadows and silhouettes

child making shadow

Shadow theatre

Choose a suitable area to set up a shadow puppet theatre. Cut a large rectangle from the front of a large cardboard box so that the audience can view the stage inside the box. Cover the rectangular space with greaseproof or tracing paper. Decorate the box using patterned wrapping paper and drape the stage with folds of shiny fabric for the curtains.

Put the box on a large table and position a spotlight so that it shines on to the back of the stage. Show the children where to stand (between the spotlight and the stage) and how to create different characters using their hands. Animal characters are the easiest. Make long ears by pointing the fingers or short ears by bending them. Create a beak by pressing the fingertip and thumb together. Make gaping jaws by opening and closing the hand.

Encourage the children to experiment with creating shadow puppets of their favourite characters from fairy stories, nursery rhymes, songs and poems. Can they make up appropriate voices for their characters and act out short stories using the puppets?

Remind the children that they should not look directly at the bright light because it is harmful to their eyes.

Suggested resources

Large cardboard box; greaseproof or tracing paper; patterned wrapping paper; shiny fabric; scissors; table; spotlight or lamp; collection of fairy stories, nursery rhymes, songs and poems.

1 Shadow puppet show

Have fun putting on a play

Communication, Language and Literacy

Language for Communication

Development matters: describe main story settings, events and principal characters (30-50 months); use vocabulary and forms of speech that are increasingly influenced by their experience of books (40-60+ months).

Early learning goal: listen with enjoyment, and respond to stories, songs and other music, rhymes and poems and make up their own stories, songs, rhymes and poems.

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