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Shadow Puppetry as a Tool to Entertain Children

Puppetry as an art is considered a very old form of expressing an idea or telling a story. Almost every country in the world has its own version of the art of puppetry.

In China, the early forms of shadow puppets were made of paper. Then later on, they were made from hides of either donkeys or oxens.

This gave shadow puppets the Chinese term "pi ying," which when translated, means shadows of hides. Slowly however, this art form is becoming extinct in China, along with other traditional Chinese art forms like Nuo Drama.

Going to the Western world, puppetry nowadays is usually associated with children, specifically, as their means of entertainment. Corollary to this is the educational aspect of this art form. Educators have long admitted that puppetry in general and shadow puppetry in particular has the potential to be an effective tool for teaching. Although in Northern America, it is still chiefly utilized to entertain little children. Still, there are many instances all around the world where puppets have been used and are currently being used in elementary and secondary education. They have been found to be a creative medium through which young children get to develop their communication powers as well as enhance their other yet-to-be developed skills.

Books of different variety and kind provide the needed information but puppetry has been proven to help enable little kids to absorb ideas easier and faster. This is especially true for kids belonging to the preschool age wherein teaching is more effective when presented through story-telling, and making use of puppets to give the story more life. Of course, the use of puppetry needs to be adjusted to the age of the schoolchildren involved. But on the whole, children of school-age are active listeners who usually enjoy a good story, especially if it is of a scary or funny nature. In such instances, shadow puppetry becomes more effective since shadows are dark figures, appropriate for use in scary or frightening stories.

As a means of entertainment for children, on the other hand, shadow puppetry is also an effective tool. It develops in them basic social skills like cooperation and tolerance. The Western world, specifically the United States, is perhaps the brain behind the innovations made in the art of puppetry in the last two decades with the TV show Sesame Street. The show made extensive use of puppets ranging in type from shadow figures to marionettes. Its most familiar usage however, are the glove puppets where the hand controls the puppet's movements, and the marionette puppets which employ strings manipulated from above in order to make the puppets perform specific actions.

In present time, shadow puppetry, and puppetry for that matter, has taken on a different form. Before, its tone is basically serious. Today, it is often hilarious and funny, chiefly to entertain children. But in non-Western countries, puppetry is still mainly used to perpetuate a nation's history, values, norms, and cultures.


Please enjoy these free hand shadow puppets and learn interesting facts on shadow puppets. Learn to make hand shadow puppets and the history of making shadow puppets and hand puppets.Shadow puppets have a long history and lots of interesting shadow puppet and hand puppet facts exist. These free hand puppet examples are for you to try your hand at creating shadow puppets and hand puppets, and hopefully put on your very own shadow puppet show!

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Images and portions of the text by Henry Bursill and were originally published by Griffith and Farran in 1859.