Shadow Puppet How-to & Resources

This topic is for collecting images, resources, and how-to for "shadow puppets."


About Shadow Puppets in Sunday School

Shadow puppets have a level of sophistication that appeals to all ages, but especially older elementary students who may balk at using traditional hand puppets or staged dramas. Working behind the scenes reduces their feeling of self-consciousness. Not having to manage a speaking part let's students focus on the presentation and actions. 

Depending on your story and class size, students can rehearse then take turns presenting the story or stories to each other.

The "script" can be something you write, or a drama script from here at rotation.org. It can also be from a Bible storybook or direct from scripture with some embellishments. It's also a good idea to add some detail to the story so that there's plenty for the puppeteers to do.  

Videotaping a presentation is also a good idea as students will want to see "how they did." Repeating is also reinforcement of the story too! 


 

 

 

 

Shadow Box Puppets

shadowboxgraphic

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Resources for Making a Shadow Box Stage and Puppets

Sue Small's "How to make a shadow puppet stage" and "how to attach straws to puppets" is well worth reading.

Sue Small's "Foxes Ridge Folkart" blog also has printable templates for Jacob and Esau shadow puppets.

The free photos from her site and referenced here show how a simple character outline can be turned into one with movable arms. 

To make:

 Trace image onto poster board, attach arms with brads. 

Use masking tape to tape flexible straws or skinny dowels to the characters and the arms.

Jacob template

suesmallblog

Attaching Straws to move the shadow puppets

 

 

Where to find character images:  

 Google Bible story clipart using Google images, or use Bible story coloring books.

Making "Sets" for Shadow Puppet Dramas

Draw props and set pieces (like houses and trees) onto white paper using black marker or dark crayon. Fill in, and then lightly tape the piece of paper to the inside of your stage screen.

Make Your Shadow Box with Screen

Cardboard Boxes or cardboard display boards are good to use. Cut a rectangular area out of the middle section of the cardboard and tape FREEZER PAPER over the opening.

Lighting the Shadow Puppet Stage

Clamp lamps or a small flourescent at the base of the stage work well.

 Several images on this page are from Sunday School teacher Sue Small's Foxes Ridge Art blog. Sue left no way to contact her, and wrote that these were free.

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The following suggestions were originally posted in our "Help I Have a Question" forum, and have been moved here and formatted by a volunteer.


SHADOW PUPPETS - "HOW TO"

Compilation of posts by:

Deborah Diehl (posted February 26, 2001)
SheilaB (posted August 22, 2002)
Jaymie Derden (posted August 14, 2002)
Amy Crane (posted March 31, 2003)
Luanne Payne (posted Aug. 22, 2014)


WHY USE SHADOW PLAYS:

  • Kids really like this one -- it is really different and is good for younger kids who can't handle much dialogue and for kids who are shy about speaking parts.
  • And it's SO MUCH FUN!

SCREENS:

  • Plastic Shower Curtain: stretched on a frame and attached with big black office binder clips .
  • I have a puppet theater and I just taped white paper over the entrance and clipped a light so that it shone on the paper.

 
LIGHTING:

  • Shine a bright light on the sheet. The actors stand behind the light because they used cut outs for the shadows. 
  • Position church's overhead projector behind it for the light.
  • Clip a light to a puppet stage so it shines on the paper.


CHARACTERS - USING CUTOUTS

  • We use black posterboard for the shapes and tape on covered floral wire sticks for the handles.   Sketch the basic shapes onto the black posterboad --don't get too elaborate--and then the kids cut them out during class.
  • Make cutouts from stiff black poster board and attached sticks that could swivel to the backs.
  • For the plagues my teacher took clear plastic and made a frame from core board and attached the plastic with whatever plague drawn on it with markers.  SheilaB (posted August 22, 2002)
 
SCRIPTS

It is usually done with narration. 

  • For scripts use children's bible story books. Read the story, then they re-inact it. 
  • First read them the story, discuss.  Then re-read the story and have the children take turns telling the story using the cut-out puppets.

PHOTOs see link.


Here's a really well done Shadow Puppet Pentecost Presentation from Dan Stever posted on YouTube.

Shadow Puppets Sources

Do a google images search of "free printable bible characters" --there are tons you can print. Print them on card stock and cut out to create shadow puppets.  

Keep in mind that you just need the outline of the character, not the color.  Use your copier's enlarge/shrink adjustment to adjust the size of the puppet.  You can cut the arms and legs and re-position to create different poses.

biblecharacters

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LEGO Shadow Puppet Stage

LEGO Puppets and Props

Here is LEGO's instruction video for "how to" build a LEGO Puppet Shadow Theater with an iPhone holder so that your "flashlight" feature on your phone creates the back-light.

Ages 4 to 9 (?)

Tips:

  • Build a second 'holder' for a second phone out front to videotape the presentation!  (The first phone is to provide back-light for the shadow drama). 
  • Be sure your paper is thin. Some copy paper is too thick and will block too much light.
  • Turn off the lights so the shadows really show up on the paper screen.
  • Let pairs of children "put on" and narrate their own version of the story. Record each.
  • Be sure you have your phone cord with you. The flashlight feature drains the battery.
  • Replay the video from your iPhone to a TV by plugging your phone into an adapter that is plugged into your TV's HDMI port. (Lightning plug to HDMI if you have an iPhone.)

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