A shadow puppet workshop for children

  • by helga
  • 06/05/2013

And now for something completely different.

With the invaluable help of Shanice at St Luke’s Trust, I’ve found a local primary school interested in hosting my shadow puppet workshop as an after-school club for children. This was a plan I had been developing for some months, having got acquainted (and promptly fallen in love) with shadow puppetry a few years ago.The workshop started last week and it will be running every Tuesday afternoon for eight sessions. During the workshop we’ll create a shadow puppet play from scratch, adapting from a children’s story. We’ll plan and draw the characters, scenery, play with shadow and light effects, and at the end we’ll assign different roles – puppeteers, light operators, music and sound effects, character voices and narrators – to present the shadow puppet theatre to parents and the local community.

I’ve prepared 10 different animal shapes to build their first shadow puppets

I’m so excited! And the kids are very excited as well… erhmm, sometimes too excited I would say… are there any miraculous techniques for keeping 8 and 9 year-old’s sitting down and focused on the task at hand, I mean for at least 5 solid minutes? We’ve limited the workshop numbers to 10 children, imagine if it was more…  I really admire all my friends who are  primary school teachers and have to deal with classes of 20 and 30 kids at a time.

By the end of the day I had already succumbed to the prospect of always having at least a couple of them running around the room, playing with the screen when they should be cutting out black poster board, or taking over the computer and the projector to play their favourite Youtube videos. As long as the videos were about shadow puppetry, I was happy enough.

Apparently a recent show at Britain’s Got Talent featured a shadow theatre of sorts, not with puppets but with humans. This was close enough to the concept and really got the kids excited about doing something similar.

In about two months, I’m intending to publish a booklet with lessons, puppets, techniques, images and activity plans. The story and difficulty level can be adapted to different age groups and different workshop hours.

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