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How to Make a Shadow Theater

A shadow theater is a fun little project that can be made in very little time. The actual theater is very easy to make. From there you have unlimited creative options as to what to put in the theater.

In this tutorial I show you how to make a nice little theater and I give you a whole lot of ideas and options for making the figures that can go in it.

I also have a video tutorial on this project at the bottom of the page.



A scene in the shadow theatre


It lends itself to a lot of creativity. It gives you the ability to tell stories. And to build little interesting scenes to go along with it. Here are two more scenes that I made for my shadow theater. Let your imagination take over and see what you come up with.

Windmill scene Sailing the seas scene


Materials and Tools:

  • 1 sheet of foam board or a large piece of cardboard
  • 1 bright light or lamp
  • Some kind of glue or a glue gun
  • 1 sheet of tracing paper
  • Masking tape or cellophane tape
  • Thin cardboard or cereal box cardboard to make the various characters and figures
  • Wire, string, paper clips and other things so you can animate the characters


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Tracing paper

This is the exact tracing paper that I bought and use for this project. Darice 9-Inch-by-12-Inch Tracing Paper, 100-Sheets




Ok, let's build the theater. And you can of course build your theater any size you like. My tracing paper.

The plans for the theater

I have a one sheet page of plans with dimensions for this shadow theater. It is a pdf and you can download it right here.


Side view of the shadow theatre


Front view of the shadow theatre


Add a light

You add a light behind it (I used a lamp). and you are ready for the figures, props and characters.

NextOkay, let's continue and make some figures to go in the theater

The Video Tutorial:

SHadow puppet theater set

Kikkerland SHadow Puppet Theater Set

  • Set includes theater, and mix and match puppet pieces (4 heads, 6 torsos and 5 bottoms) with Velcro attachments
  • Designed by Chris Collicott
  • Wonderful gift for kids or design inclined adults
  • Bring endless adventures to the stage
  • Theater measures 15.2 by 13.5 by 3.7-inches


Shadow puppets

Moulin Roty Les Petittes Merveilles Nighttime Shadow Castle


The art of hand shadows

The Art of Hand Shadows

Making hand shadows on the wall is an age-old pastime that has provided countless hours of entertainment for children and adults alike. In this entertaining how-to book, a master of the art goes far beyond the basics to reveal his secrets for creating realistic, lifelike hand shadows.
With practice and patience, you too can soon learn how to arrange your hands and fingers to form shadow images of a lumbering dinosaur, a pair of playful monkeys, an eagle slowly taking flight, a cat scratching itself, a howling wolf, and a neighing horse. You'll also discover how to create profiles of Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro, and other notables; and how to make recognizable silhouettes of churches, a pagoda, the Eiffel Tower, and more.