Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Making Shadow Puppets for our Alien Orchestra Shadow Puppet Show (part 1/2)

This year, my Maestros 1 group (ages 6-7 years) has been playing recorder, ukulele and violin.  At the end of our year together we have a celebration to show off our playing skills.

This year we did play our tunes on all our instruments but I have to say the most excitement came from our process work to create a shadow puppet show using the children's ideas.

I chose a piece of music in 6/8 time to use as a stimulus for our play.
Grieg's Morning Mood from Peer Gynt Suite was our focus.

Creating the Shadow Puppet Show Script

1.  Listen to Morning Mood (from the Peer Gynt Suite by Greig).
Children lie on the floor with eyes closed and just keep track of the images they see in their imagination as they hear the orchestral music playing.  

We gather together after listening and share all our visions.  Susan writes madly as they share their visions.  (see pix below)

2.  The following week at our next class, we listen again, add any new ideas and then begin brainstorming how to incorporate the ideas into a story that will be accompanied by the orchestral recording of the music.

We listed the main characters from our story and then worked out a simple storyline. (below)

Creating the Shadow Puppets - drawings first
3.  I don't try to nail down the storyline too precisely during the second listening but just get a general outline of the ideas that seem most popular to the children.

After our third listening, we reviewed the storyline and I introduced the idea of the shadow puppet screen and creating a set of shadow puppets for this storyline.

I asked the children to claim characters and bits of the story and to draw  a simple outline of the bit they chose.

Some children chose to draw birds, the alien orchestra, the space ship, the Easter bunnies.
I've posted some of their drawings below.

Due to time constraints, I actually spend many hours outside of our class time creating the actual puppets but I base the design on these drawings.

I'll post the puppet pix in my next post only because blogger is not letting me add photos to this one now!...what's up with me and blogger???

alien playing drums
birds flying in formation
an Easter bunny
alien playing xylophones
another bunny
the spaceship - notice the flames upon lift off!


  1. How did you make the screen? I really want to do shadow puppets with my class! thank you :)

    1. The first shadow puppet screen I made was very simple.
      I hung a string across the room.
      I took a white, queen size sheet and clipped the top of it to the string.
      I use an outdoor spotlight and plug it in behind the screen so the light shines from behind.
      Easy to set up and easy to take down. Not very elegant to look at with the huge clips holding the top, but it was great for my first few shows.

      Now I have a beautiful, elaborate shadow puppet screen. I used the white sheet and sewed a colorful border all around the edges (bottom, sides and top). I made the top with a pocket to slide a string through.

      I leave the string in the screen all the time and when the screen is not in use I fold it up and store it in a plastic zip bag.

      I'd love to hear how you make yours! Let me know:)


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