Chinese Shadow Puppets

Chinese Shadow Puppets Activity

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Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Shadow puppets are a traditional form of folk art that originated in ancient China. Long ago this form of artistic puppetry was used to both entertain the people and communicate important messages. You can perform your own shadow puppet show with your child by creating these easy puppets and a simple shadow box theater.

What You Need:

  • White card stock
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Wooden skewers
  • Brass fasteners
  • Internet
  • Tape
  • Waxed paper
  • Copy paper box lid
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Small lamp

What You Do:

  1. Have your child hop on the Internet and look up what the puppets in Chinese shadow play tend to look like. What clothing do the male puppets wear? How are the female puppets attired? Do creatures of myth appear in Chinese shadow puppetry?
  2. Encourage your kid to decide what kind of puppet he’d like to make.
  3. Start creating the puppet by drawing the different parts of the puppet on the card stock. Remind your child to try to make his puppet look as much like the puppets he came across on the Internet as possible.
  4. Once he’s done drawing, he can use crayons and markers to add color to the shapes. 
  5. Have him cut the finished pieces out using the scissors. 
  6. Make sure he positions the pieces where he wants them to be connected.
  7. Let him assemble the puppets by pushing the sharp points of the brass fasteners at the points where he's overlapped the different pieces of card stock.
  8. Show him how to attach the wooden skewers to the central piece, as well as the limbs of the puppet. Encourage him to manipulate his creation so he can get a feel for how his puppet moves.
  9. Now he can get started on the puppet theater by using a ruler to measure a line one inch from the top, the bottom, and each of the sides of the cardboard lid.
  10. Have him cut out the rectangle shape he just create with the scissors.
  11. Glue a piece of waxed paper over the rectangular window.
  12. Encourage him to liven up his theater by using the crayons and markers to decorate the border of the window.
  13. Place a small lamp behind the screen and let your young puppet master put on a show!
Updated on Apr 23, 2014
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See more activities in: Fifth Grade, Chinese New Year
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