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Create a Shadow Puppet

Inspired by Carmen Sandiego Episode 3, students construct an Indonesian shadow puppet and perform a puppet show.

Continue a 1,000 Year-Old Tradition!

In episode 3, Carmen and her crew see a shadow puppet show. Kids learn about this Indonesian tradition by creating their own puppets, building teamwork and creative skills as they work together to put on a show.

Activity Instructions

Kids create shadow puppets and put on a simple puppet show.

Estimated Time: 45–60 minutes
Materials Needed: Construction paper, photos of wayang kulit, wooden craft sticks, glue, projector, screen

  1. Tell kids that the shadow puppet show that Carmen and her crew visited is an Indonesian tradition that goes back more than 1,000 years. Share with kids that there are several different forms of Indonesian shadow puppets. The puppets they will be making are similar to wayang kulit, flat puppets that traditionally are made out of leather. Show kids photos of wayang kulit. Indonesian puppet shows usually tell a traditional story from the Mahabharata (muh-HAH-BAH-ruh-tuh) or Ramayana (rah-MAH-yuh-nuh) epics.
  2. Show kids how to construct shadow puppets by cutting out silhouettes of figures and gluing them to craft sticks.
  3. Have kids work in small groups to create short, simple puppet shows. Kids should base their puppet show on a traditional story or folk tale. Each kid should make a puppet of one of the characters in the story. Then, as a group, your kids can retell the story using their puppets.
  4. Allow kids to perform the puppet shows by moving their puppets between the projector and the screen while the audience sits on the other side of the screen.