Playful Literacy and Shadow Puppets

shadow puppets outside

Literacy and Shadow Puppets

For pre-literate children, shadow puppets are a fantastic way to support the big idea of story found in most early learning curriculums. Shadow puppet play adds another dimension of curiosity to story telling and imaginative play in your outdoor or garden classroom. In British Columbia, the 7 big ideas in the Kindergarten Language Arts curriculum are deeply connected to playful story telling.

Shadow Puppets

“Language and story can be a source of creativity and joy.

Stories and other texts help us learn about ourselves and our families.

Stories and other texts can be shared through pictures and words.

Everyone has a unique story to share.

Through listening and speaking, we connect with others and share our world

Playing with language helps us discover how language works

Curiosity and wonder lead us to new discoveries about ourselves and the world around us.”

In Kindergarten through grade 3, an enormous focus on playful story telling in our curriculum makes these puppets an easy and natural fit in the indoor or outdoor classroom. The big ideas are consistent through the grades with only slight variations as the grades increase. In grade 3, a new big idea is introduced

“Using language in creative and playful ways helps us understand how language works.”

You can read the entire BC English Language Arts curriculum documents here:


Grade One

Grade Two

Grade Three

Shadow Puppet Resources

Several years ago, I received a set of fairy tale puppets to review from Liska over at Adventures in a Box. Since I teach outdoors all day, I had to come up with a way to keep them in good shape, no matter the weather.  A quick run through the laminator and a simple attachment of the included dowel was all that was required to get this invitation to play ready for outdoor use! Liska’s shadow puppets are fantastic, but you can also make your own.

We use shadow puppets mostly with our young learners. In my experience, children who chose to engage with shadow puppets equally enjoy being both spectator and creator of stories! Puppets cast a long or short shadow depending on the time of day and position of the puppets, which ties nicely into a study of light and shadows in Science. The puppets could also easily be used in a shadow puppet theatre inside the classroom with flashlights to create a dramatic backdrop.

shdow puppets

If you are particularly good with a pair of scissors, you can download free copies of many of the shadow puppets here.

Liska’s entire line of shadow puppets can be linked to here.

If you are looking for more playful learning resources, Adventures in a box makes beautiful wooden toys too!

Fairy tree house block set
Playful literacy with shadow puppets.

For more playful learning ideas, come join me on Pinterest:


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