Monday, 21 February 2011

Monday Makery - Shadow Puppets

Sessi (Sophia) was remembering on the way to school the days when the sun was shining brightly and we would walk along making shadow puppets on the wall, telling a story along the way. Last summer it became part of our morning routine on the walk to nursery. So much so we ended up having to leave 10 minutes early to allow time for our shadow stories. The sun isn't shining bright enough now for our morning tales so I thought we would make some puppets at home to make stories together that way. 
Shadow puppets are a great way to encourage story telling with children. This is especially true for children who have not yet learnt to read by themselves. Each story is limited only to the puppeteers' imagination. There are endless stories to imagine, endless puppets to make and hours of fun to be had retelling fairytale classics not to mention those brilliant and often comedic tales children like to tell quite often adding their own twist to a well known story.

It's fun to recreate the characters from a favourite book; Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, or The Gruffalo. Though it's equally if not more fun to create a random selection of creatures and people and let the children use them to conjure up a story of their own imagination.

As the puppets are so simple to make you will no doubt keep adding more and more characters to your collection and this is what makes these creations all the more wonderful.

Children who are too young to play puppeteer themselves will love the new way of having a story told and what a great introduction to theatre too. Oona who is not yet two is too young to be able to recount a story but she loves the way the shadows move. She walks around with a puppet in hand squealing with delight 'marmai' every time the mermaid shadow appears on the wall or floor.

What you'll need:
  • card - pizza or cereal boxes are ideal
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • pipe cleaners or lollipop sticks
  • a spotlight or lamp with the shade removed
  • an empty wall or a sheet to hang

Here's how:
  • draw outlines for each character, animal or scene you want to use on your card and cut each out carefully.
  • using sticky tape secure a pipe cleaner to the back of each shadow puppet to create your stick. If your character feels too heavy twist two pipe cleaners together before sticking.
  • hang a sheet from the ceiling using small tacks or knot each corner of the sheet and tie string around the knots using the string to hang the theatre from more hidden corners of the room. If you chose you can project the shadows onto an empty wall. Though this may make it harder to give a sense of there being a stage and an audience. A very long sheet of greaseproof paper stretched across the room and taped to the wall either side also makes a great area for shadow puppet theatre. To make a more permanent theatre albeit a smaller one an opened cereal box with a rectangular frame cut from the front with greaseproof paper stuck inside the frame makes a fantastic portable theatre that won't need to be taken down.
  • Sit your lamp or spotlight behind the sheet or paper leaving enough distance for the puppeteer to be able to stand and perform and let the show begin.

Once upon a time ..........................

................and they lived happily ever after.

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