To create a shadow puppet stage, start by making the screen. Use masking tape to stretch a white shower curtain liner around a frame. This screen will help defuse the light. The frame can be anything from a wooden frame, a cardboard box, or even a door. You will also need a light source such as a clip light, projector, or lamp. Place this light source behind the screen approximately four feet away from the stage.


Use the cardstock to draw or trace an image of your choice. Cut it out and add moving appendages by overlapping the moveable limbs and inserting a brad to allow movement. Students may add detail to their puppet with markers. Then add a dowel or two to your cardstock with clear tape so you can operate the puppet from below.


Predict what will happen when the puppets are used on the stage. Will the marker detail be observable in the shadow? Observe what happens when the puppet is operated close to the stage versus farther away from the stage.

Concept Development:

Objects in the path of light waves block the flow of light and therefore create a shadow. When the puppet is closer to the light source the shadow becomes larger and blocks more of the light waves. Moving the puppet closer to the stage blocks fewer light waves resulting in a smaller shadow.

Play and Respond:

Look at the object you’ve made and decide characteristics about your puppet. What is the puppet’s name? Where does it live? What does it want to do? Then discover how it moves. Can you make the puppet jump? Run? Walk? Dance? Create a short scenario. Place your puppet in a dramatic situation and find a resolution to the conflict. For example: your character is stuck in mud and needs to get out! Practice the events of this scene and then share your scene with a friend. Repeat the scenario with a friend and discover a new scenario together. To explore your ideas further, you can then write your stories down in a journal.