I know my regular gardening readers probably recoil at my kid craft posts, but I'm a full-time mom and part-time gardener, so most of my day is spent trying to occupy two little boys without relying solely on SpongeBob and Scooby Doo. Trying to come up with something creative every single day of the week isn't an easy task, but every now and then we find something that's a real hit. This activity was such a hit that I had to share it incase another mom needed something cheap and easy to do with her kids.
I've always like the idea of shadow puppets, but wasn't sure we could pull it off. It turns out you need no skills whatsoever and it doesn't cost anything so we gathered the essential equipment:
Wooden sticks (we used bamboo skewers from the kitchen)
Black construction paper
To get the ball rolling I sat up one night scouring the web for photos of a house, a wolf and some pigs. I found the pictures and printed them out. Then I cut them out and traced around the shape onto black construction paper. Next I cut them out and laminated them. Finally I taped a bamboo skewer to the back of each one, after I cut off the pointy part of the skewer. The boys are very familiar with the Three Little Pigs story so I knew they'd jump at the chance to act it out.
We got two barstools and stretched out a piece of freezer paper in between the stools and taped it in place. We put a halogen desk lamp behind the stools and turned off the lights in the room. We started with me telling the story of the Three Little Pigs and the boys watching, but I wasn’t able to finish the story without the boys begging to tell their own version. They had such a great time acting it out and changing up the story.
Then they decided that making their own shadow puppets would lead to much better stories. The boys got black construction paper and a white crayon and drew their own puppets. With some creative cutting out by me, we ended up with a dinosaur, two monsters, a boy and a boat.
These puppets along with the Three Little Pig puppets led to some hilarious stories. The boys were literally crying they were laughing so hard at their own insane stories. We had monsters knocking on the houses, dinosaurs eating pigs, a boy riding on the wolf's back… and the boys just couldn't get enough. They actually played with these puppets for almost two hours. They are 3 and 5 years old and I said close to TWO hours.
I didn't laminate the boys puppets because they wanted to use them right away and had no patience for the laminator. Even though they were just construction paper taped to a bamboo skewer, they held up just fine without any rips, so clearly a laminator isn't necessary.
This was one of the best activities we've ever done together. Their imaginations were in overdrive and it didn't cost a penny. If you wanted to make it gardening related, you could always cut out Jack and the Beanstalk for your kids to act out in their shadow puppet theatre.