DIY: Make a Colorful Shadow Puppet

Follow along to this video with the written instructions below.




  1. Print Shadow Puppet Pattern onto black cardstock (the print lines will show for cutting). 
  2. Cut out your shadow puppet pieces and use the hole punch to punch holes where indicated on the pattern.

CONNECTING THE BODY: Lay your cut pieces out, and use the paper fasteners to attach the pieces together. Follow these steps for maximum performance:

    1. Make sure that the thumb of the forearm is facing up. Place bicep on top. Use paper fastener to fasten together at the elbow.
    2. Make sure that the toes, rounded part of the body, and the hand are pointed in the same direction. 
    3. Lay the body on top of the legs (straight side down) and use the paper fastener to fasten in place. NOTE: make sure that your connection is loose so that the legs have the ability to swing.
    4. Lay the body on top of the arm. Connect at the upper part of the bicep and use the paper fastener to fasten in place. Make sure the connection is loose enough for the arm to move smoothly.

ADDING PERFORMANCE RODS: Attach 2 pieces of tape (approx 2″ each) to the pointy end of your skewer. Follow these steps to attach them to your puppet.

    1.  Create a “Y” with masking tape. Add one piece of tape to the pointy end of your skewer. Half of the tape should stick above the end of the skewer.
    2. Add a second piece of tape the same way (sticky side facing the sticky side of the other piece of tape that has already been applied). Make sure that the parts of the tape that extend past the skewer curl back so that they do not touch.
    3. Turn your skewer upside down so that the tape is facing the hand of your puppet. Hold the skewer perpendicular to your puppet with one piece of tape above the other. Press onto puppet’s hand. Trim any excess tape.
    4. Repeat the steps above to create a second rod that attaches to the body of the puppet.

CREATE A CUSTOM HEAD: Draw your own creation by following these steps.

    1. Use a pencil to draw THE PROFILE of your own custom character on white paper. This means the side of the face (character will only have 1 eye).  TIP: To encourage children to draw a head that is large enough to go with its body, you may choose to:
      1. Trace the inside circle of your masking tape onto the paper as a frame
      2. Trace around your fingers and hand to make shapes. 
      3. Cut the white paper into 4″x4″ squares and instruct your child to draw a face that touches each edge of the paper.
    2.  Place your white paper drawing inside of the plastic sleeve. Use a black permanent marker to trace all main facial features and edges of puppet face onto the plastic. Add a rectangular piece as the neck of the puppet. Allow 1-2 minutes for the marker to dry.
    3. Cut out puppet head from plastic (make sure to include additional room for the neck by cutting the rectangular piece with the head).
    4. Flip over your your plastic head to the opposite side, so that the black marker won’t smear when you color your face. Use permanent marker to color in the details of your face. Remember, coloring over wet permanent marker may smear or erase the marker, so use one color at a time and allow 1-2 minutes to dry. 

ATTACH YOUR HEAD TO YOUR BODY: Choose one of TWO ways to attach your puppet’s head to its body:

    1. Attach your head to the body of your puppet (less movement, easier to control)
      1. Use double stick tape to attach the neck of your puppet to the puppet’s body. The head will move only when you move the rod attached to the body.
    2. Attach your head to the bicep of the puppet (more movement, more challenging to control).
      1. Before attaching the bicep to the body, use double stick tape to attach the neck to the upper bicep
      2. Line up the hole punch with the puppet hole in the bicep and punch through the plastic
      3. Attach the  bicep to the body using a paper fastener

TIP: Once you have taped the rods to the puppet, it will face in one direction. You can remove the rods and place on the other side of the puppet to change its direction, or make a second puppet that has rods on the opposite side.



There are many ways to perform shadow puppets. Grab a flashlight and have some fun! 

  1. Pinch the rods in the tips of your fingers.
  2. Twist one rod at a time to see how your puppet moves
  3. Rest the feet of your puppet on a flat surface and lift it up and down slightly to make the puppet jump. Add forward movement to this “jump” to make your puppet walk. 
  4. Move your wrist back and forth to reach the arm forward and backward. If the head is attached it will move as well.

PROJECT ONTO A BLANK WALL or USE A SCREEN- Hang a sheet in a doorway; cut a square out of a cardboard box and tape a large piece of white paper to cover it; even use a window shade to make night time puppet shows for your neighbors. However you make your screen, you will want to project a light from behind it to entertain the guests in front. The tighter the screen, the more crisp your shadows will be.


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