Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chinese Shadow Puppets and Theater

We are having so much fun learning about China!  This week we learned about the Legend of how Chinese shadow puppets where created and made our own shadow puppets and theater.  


The Legend says….Once upon a time, a long time ago, in Han times, the favorite wife of the emperor became ill and died. Her husband, missed her so much that he lost interest in ruling after her death.  Everyone wanted to help the emperor, but nothing seemed to work.

One day, a priest in the palace passed some children playing with dolls. The dolls made shadows on the floor, shadows that seemed to dance as the children played. The dancing shadows gave the priest an idea. He hurried away to work on his idea. 

First, he made a puppet from cotton balls. He painted the puppet to look somewhat like the emperor's wife. When his puppet was ready, he invited the emperor to a special puppet show. 

The emperor appreciated all the things his court had done to cheer him up, but really, all the emperor wanted was to be left alone. He knew the priest would be insistent. The priest was a old friend. With a sigh, a very deep sigh, the emperor agreed to attend the show. 

That evening, the priest placed a light behind a curtain, along with himself and his puppet. As he moved the puppet behind the curtain, it cast a dancing shadow. The priest told stories of the emperor's wife. They were wonderful stories, wonderful memories. Even though the priest was there, and the puppet was there, it seemed as if the shadow was telling the story. 

The emperor was delighted. He clapped his hands in joy. Every night, after a busy day of taking care of the business of being emperor, the emperor looked forward to hearing "shadow stories" about his wife, and her day, and of their life together.  

And that, according to legend, is how shadow puppets were born.


We found instructions for making the puppet theater here.  The link also includes a very cute YouTube video ~ Jack and the Beanstalk Shadow Puppet Show.  My kids loved watching this!

What You Will Need to Create a Theater and Shadow Puppets:

  • Cereal box
  • Pen or marker
  • Scissors
  • Utility knife
  • Tape
  • Wax paper or thin white paper
  • Optional:  black construction paper or paper of your choice to decorate the front of the theater
  • Shadow Puppets Template (we reduced these and copied them on cardstock so they would fit our theater)
  • Makers and/or crayons
  • Totally optional: glitter, sequins
  • Craft sticks
  • Brads 
  • Desk lamp or some other lighting source

   What You Will Do:

  1. Tape up the ends of the box.
  2. Use a pen or marker to trace a line about 1 1/2 inches away from the edge on the front and back of the box.
  3. Cut out your openings with scissors or a utility knife.IMG_4079
  4. Tape a sheet of wax paper or thin white paper over one of the openings.
  5. Optional:  We decided to frame the front of our theater with black construction paper.      IMG_4104
  6. Color the shadow puppets and add glitter and sequins if you are daring!  (Yes, my kids had glitter EVERYWHERE!)                                     IMG_4082
  7. Cut out the puppets and join them together with brads, where ever you want the puppet to bend.  Tape remaining parts together.
  8. Tape craft sticks to the back of puppet.IMG_4099
  9. Add light behind your theater (we used a lamp without the shade) and have fun putting on a puppet show.        


This was a super easy craft ~ except for the glitter clean up!  The kids already have plans to cut some puppets out of black paper to go along with their favorite books!



Anonymous said...

oo so much fun! Well minus the glitter clean up :-)

Corina said...

How fun!!! : )

m.wright said...

Love it. I recently saw this idea on another blog but can't remember where. I planned on doing it and now I know how. Thanks. I just love all your ideas.

Jolanthe said...

GREAT idea, Cindy!! I'm sure the kids are enjoying this tons!

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