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MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

Chinese Shadow Puppets


This lesson was created to supplement a sixth, seventh, and eighth grade interdisciplinary museum program on Chinese shadow puppets in the upcoming exhibit “Take Me There China” at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. In this lesson students will examine the background of shadow puppets, the art and science behind them, and then be given writing prompts to create a short play. Use this lesson as a pre-visit experience. Students will be able to create their own puppets through links in this lesson and during their museum visit. Invite students to showcase their learning by creating shadow puppets and performing their plays as a post-visit activity.



What is the importance of shadow puppetry?

How does the angle of light and the light source affect the outcome of the shadows?

When writing a short play, what inspired your story and characters?


At the end of this lesson students will understand that:

-shadow puppetry originated in China during the Han Dynasty.

-a light source at the correct angle is necessary to create shadows.

-exquisite detail is put into the creation of shadow puppets with paints, separate movable joints, and cutouts.

-though popular in festivals, the tradition of shadow puppets is unfortunately becoming extinct.


This lesson correlates to the following Indiana State Standards:

Grade 6 Fine Arts: Theatre (6.1.2, 6.2.1, 6.5.1, 6.6.2, 6.7.1)

Grade 7 Social Studies (7.1.1, 7.1.7, 7.1.10, 7.3.1)

Grade 7 Fine Arts: Theatre (7.1.1, 7.1.2, 7.5.1, 7.6.2, 7.7.2, 7.9.1)

Grade 7 Science: Physical Science (7.1.4)

Grade 8 Fine Arts: Theatre (8.1.2, 8.4.1, 8.5.1, 8.6.1, 8.6.2)


Created By

Heather Gromley


The Arts

Grade Level