Our fifth graders just completed a shadow puppet unit. We had a lot of fun creating shadow puppets and performing with them on our old overhead projector. If you’ve got one (or more) of these old projectors at school, grab them! Your students will have a blast making shadow puppets.
tagboard or construction paper
colored Sharpie permanent markers
Create a puppet:
Draw a character on tagboard or paper. Encourage kids to make puppets with interesting silhouettes. Cut out. Use the punches to add a decorative edge. Students can also cut out slits or interesting shapes within the puppets. They can also pierce the puppets with a push pin to make tiny dots of light (look carefully at the octopus below to see this effect). Tape on a bamboo skewer and you are ready to go!
Students created shadow puppets from black paper and bamboo skewers
Our fifth graders just created these fabulous monster silhouettes. They learned how contour, organic shape and negative space contribute to an interesting design.
black construction paper
Illustrations from ‘Monster Mash’ by Mimi Maxwell
We began by looking at the illustrations in the book Monster Mash by Mimi Maxwell. The monsters are all in silhouette. We discussed organic (free form) vs. geometric shape. We also noticed the most interesting monsters had pointed or swirling body parts. Many had cut-outs (aka negative space).
Fifth grade monster silhouettes.
Fifth grade monster silhouette. Allow 90 minutes.
Create the monsters
Students did a couple of thumbnail sketches, then drew their monsters on black paper. Remind your students to design large monsters with interesting body parts and cut-outs. The most common problem is when a student draws a tiny, perfect monster that is too small to cut out.