Wayang Activity

4.0 based on 2 ratings
Updated on Jan 21, 2014

Based upon traditional Indonesian Wayang puppets; kids will make their very own puppet with moveable arms that can be operated with sticks. Not only are they beautiful on their own, but kids can use the puppets to perform their very own shadow puppet theater.

What You Need:

  • 9” x 12” construction paper or black poster board
  • Two thin dowel rods, 12” and 20”
  • Wooden skewer to help poke holes in the poster board
  • Two small brads
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Paint, oil pastels or glitter to decorate.

What You Do:

  1. Explain to your puppet master that Wayang puppets are traditionally ugly and misshapen creatures because Indonesians believe that it is bad luck to recreate anything that looks like a man or woman.
  2. Now encourage her to draw a puppet body on black poster board. Draw the left arm separate from the body. The left arm is created in two parts; the first is drawn from the shoulder to the hand, including the elbow, the second part is to re-draw the shoulder to just above the elbow. Make sure these two extra pieces are big enough to fit brads into them, they will be jointed and moveable.
  3. Cut out all three pieces of your puppet from the poster board.
  4. Attach the arm pieces to the body using the brads; one brad will join the hand and elbow piece to the small shoulder to elbow piece, then that is attached to the shoulder missing an arm.
  5. Decorate the puppet any way you like. You can paint or color it in with oil pastels or decorate with glitter.
  6. Tape the dowel rods onto the back of the puppet body. The longer dowel rod should be taped from the center of the head down the length of the body. The shorter rod should be taped from the puppets jointed hand.
  7. Hang a white sheet in a dark room. Sit behind the sheet with the puppet. Have a light source from behind the sheet, such as an overhead projector, candles (with parental supervision), or flashlights. Sit lower than your puppet and put on a show for your audience sitting in front of the sheet.
Ellen Dean has worked as an art educator in Thailand since 2005, working with both children and adults. She has also been a professional artist working in painting, sculpture and photography since 1996.