Shadow Puppet Theatre

Learn about shadows and light! In this project, you’ll put different shapes in a Ziploc® brand sandwich bag and shine a flashlight to stage a shadow puppet scene. What happens to the shadows if you move the light closer or farther from the bag? How do the shadows change when you add or remove shapes? Find out in this science and storytelling project!

  1. Ages: 3 - 8

  2. <30 minutes

  3. A little messy

  4. Grownup needed

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Step 1

    Gather your materials.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Step 2

    Cut out the stage frame from the printable to make the template. Use a pencil to trace the cut-out paper template onto the cardboard.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

  • Step 3

    Use the scissors to cut out the cardboard along the traced lines. Cutslits in the middle of each of the trapezoid-shaped stand pieces (using the dotted lines on the templates as references). The width of the slit should be the thickness of your cardboard.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 3

  • Step 4

    Tape the edges of the Ziploc® brand sandwich bag into theframe, then wedge the frame into the stand pieces.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 4

  • Step 5

    Cut out the simple shapes from the second printable. Put the shapes in the Ziploc® brand bag.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 5

  • Step 6

    In a dim or dark room, set up your puppet theater about two feet from a blank wall. Shine the flashlight toward bag so that it casts a shadow against the wall. Try moving the flashlight closer and farther away from the bag. What happens to the shadows? How big can you make them? How small?

    Photo reference of how to complete step 6

  • Learn moreMagnifying graphic

    When light shines on something transparent, like glass or a clear Ziploc® brand sandwich bag, the light passes through. But when light shines on opaque materials, like paper, block the light and create a shadow on the other side. The closer the puppet theater is to the flashlight, the bigger the shadows are. That’s because the puppet theater blocks more of the light if it’s closer to the flashlight.

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