Storytelling with Shadow Puppets - Class 3 of 3

Local Artist Darrin Crow

Darrin Crow tells imaginative, engaging stories that keep audiences on the edge of their seats and stick with them long after the tale ends.  He introduces students to the power of storytelling at the Arts Academy with classes in storytelling, puppetry, and improvisation. Catch up with Darrin on his website or YouTube Channel.


Storytelling with Shadow Puppets - Class 3 of 3

 This is the last class in the series and by the time you have finished this last class you will be ready to create a unique performance for your family using shadow puppets you have made, and characters you have created. In the previous class we have been playing with The Three Billy Goats. Let’s see today what creature your characters have to go up against. We’ll also spend some time learning to build simple shadow puppets.

Story Creation

The Villain is a fun character to play and today your job is to think about this character and how it relates to other characters in your story. To help you design your Villain answer these questions:

  • What will our main characters go against?
  • What does it look like?
  • Why is it cranky?
  • What does it do?
  • What does it think of the other characters?

In the Storytelling Bonus section at the end of the video Darrin, Emily and Robin share some ideas about who might be the Villain in a story with some unusual characters. Listen to that section to get the an idea about how to brainstorm about your Villain.

Shadow Puppet Creation

Drawing and cutting out shadow puppets is simple and fun. With a few tips from Darrin you will be successful! 

  1. Remember that what you draw is good! Lots of people say they can’t draw, and their shadow puppet won’t be good, but then they get it cut out and up on the screen. They are amazed at how cool and full of life it is.
  2. Draw for the size of your screen. Often we get nervous about drawing and draw really small. Then it is hard to cut out and hard to see. Unless you have a really small screen, you can draw a pretty big shadow puppet.
  3. Take the time to cut out the details. Make sure to cut around hands, feet, hair, etc. The more detail you cut into your puppet, the better it will look. You may need help with some of that cutting, but that’s ok. It’s all right to ask for help. And, as you keep cutting, you’ll learn more and more how to do it.


  • Card stock or other stiff paper
  • Craft sticks or straws, or other types of “sticks”
  • Glue Sticks
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Tub O' Stuff - odds and ends like yarn and feathers

Once you have drawn your characters and cut them out you can add other things to embellish them. Feathers make great shadows and some yarn hair is also fun since it moves around as your puppet moves. Attach a bendy straw or other type of stick to your puppet using masking tape. If you have brads in your junk drawer, you can create a movable part like an arm, a head or a leg. Just be sure to attach another stick to that part so you can make it move! Also, remember that you can cut holes in your puppet to create features as the light will pass through. 

Telling the Tale

You have worked on telling the tale a few times now with different characters, and using interesting voices.  Now it is time for one last performance of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Remember to change the title to suit your new characters. Remember to begin with the Storyteller’s Pledge. Let the story begin!

Additional Resources

Enjoy this Shadow Puppet story from Darrin: “Puss ’n Boots.”

This is a short and silly shadow puppet story of a UFO visit to a farm from Matt Sandbank.

Sea Song, is the story of a boy’s discovery of the natural world at the seaside. This production by Hobey Ford follows the life cycle of the sea turtle and the fragile interwoven environment of animals living at the edge of land and sea. Sea Song is performed in the style of Ford’s Animalia series featuring his beautiful carved foam animals performed in full view of the audience.

Additional shadow puppet classes can be found here:
Share your work and stay connected!

We are curious to see your project! Upload photos in the comment section below. If you have trouble, or want to share a short video, email us at Leave your school name in the comment box and we will share images with your school!

We want to stay connected to our creative students when we get back to the new normal. While you are here, learn more about the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy. While we don't have much taking place in real space/time during the pandemic, we will get back to our regular live and in-person classes. When we do, we'd love to have you as a member!

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