Today I have been preparing my first ever “Shadow Puppet Play” which I will perform with my class of pre-schoolers.
Shadow puppetry is a form of puppetry, in which you move puppets, cut out of paper, between a light source and a screen. The audience on the other side of the screen only sees the shadows. It is great for storytelling, a lot of fun to prepare and children love it. You can make it as ambitious as you like with moving body parts and different props and scenes.
Having very little previous experience with shadow puppets I decided to keep it simple, play safe and chose a well known fairy tale ”Little Red Riding Hood”. I am no great artist and I rely heavily on stencils from the internet for masks, paper puppets, flashcards etc. Today I came across a great website www.hvanrossum.com which really helped me out for stencils and how to stage a puppet play for young children. “Heleen Van Rossum“ will give you step by step advice on how to approach your first performance.
I recently purchased a cardboard puppet theatre from IKEA for about $7 which is simple to assemble and practical for transporting around as it folds flat. In the photos you can see I simply attached,with masking tape, a piece of paper table cloth or baking paper (just as Heleen van Rossum suggests) and I’m happy to go.
Start out by narrating the story slowly animating your voice and using the puppets. (I suggest to practice a few times at home in front of a mirror).You can stop during or at the end of each scene and ask the children what they understand. Don’t let the play last for more than 7 mins (keep it short and sweet to maintain the children’s full attention)
Now invite the children to come “behind the scenes” and become the puppeteers themselves as you retell the story. To finish, prepare a simple shadow puppet character template for each child to cut out and make their own.