The Shadow Shows

the shadow showsTeachers, parents, and librarians, lend me your ears! Today, I present Shadow Puppets Theater by Creativity for Kids, the one stop shop for hours of imaginative narration and story building. Get thee hence and acquire one!

shadow puppets theater by creativity for kidsThe kit retails for around $20, and is intended for ages “6 to 96.” It contains a theater, a detachable chalkboard marquee, 1 piece of yellow chalk, stickers, rhinestones, 10 felt animal puppets, 2 felt people puppets with accessories, 15 metal brads for the jointed puppets, 12 puppet holders, 8 puppet sticks, and 2 LED lights (batteries included!).

shadow puppet theater kit contentsOne of the frustrating things about toy puppet theaters is how flimsy the stage is, and how the slightest nudge will send it tumbling. Not this one! It’s made out of very sturdy cardboard. A few basic folds, and the stage is ready to go, anchored in place with some very helpful velcro fasteners.

back of shadow puppet theaterThere’s also a detachable chalkboard marquee for the top, which is super cute. Also, unlike some of the cheaper cardboard chalkboards, the chalk wipes off cleanly and easily with a dry paper towel.

shadow puppet theater marqueeAlso included are some terrific stickers and clear rhinestones (yes!) to decorate the front of the theater. They are easily removable, so you can change your theater’s look. The stage’s screen is thick, high quality, and securely mounted (because there’s nothing sadder then your screen buckling, tearing or falling off during a performance).

But best of all is the lighting. The sturdy LED lights have flexible necks and are attached to clips. So you can attach them to the top of the theater OR…and I really, really, loved this. They can balance on their clips and act as footlights. Genius.

Their illumination power is fantastic. No matter what configuration we put the lights in, we got great shadows and and a well-lit screen.

illuminated shadow puppet theater screenThe puppets? They totally rock. Look at them! The mouse! The owl! The happy pig!

animal shadow puppets

The kit comes with foam blocks that self-adhere to the back of each puppet. Simply stick the block to the back of the puppet, inset the puppet stick in the pre-drilled hole, and you’re ready to go!

shadow mouse puppet

There were also 2 jointed puppets, which consisted of a main body piece and some interesting accessories to attach (hair, hats, skirts, pants, etc.). Note to grown-ups: the metal brads used to hinge the puppets joints are tiny. Younger kids are definitely going to need help with them.

jointed shadow puppetsI only have one quibble with this puppet theater kit. There are 12 puppets in the kit, but only 8 sticks! The instructions say to swap out the sticks during the show, but that somewhat breaks the flow. I made a couple extra out of a balloon stick. But this is the only problem I have with the awesome puppet kit.

How did our kid testers (ages 6 and 9) like the theater? They LOVED it! They loved how the screen lit up, all the different choices of puppets, and how they could move the lighting around for different effects. The stage stood up to an HOUR LONG continuous narrative with no breaks. Yes, that was 60 minutes of total concentration that only stopped because it was time to leave the office.

For $20, the Creativity for Kids Shadow Puppets Theater is a fabulous gift, activity, or program resource that will be throughly enjoyed. It’s packed with fun things, the puppets are great, it’s definitely tough enough to be use by scores of enthusiastic amatuer puppeteers. Bonus! The LED lights also work as clip-on mini lamps for late night reading. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Five out of five stars!

Dragon = Fireworks

dragon equals fireworks

It’s party time at the castle as two dragons provide some colorful fireworks… just pull the paper dragon to get the firework to “launch” from the top of the castle!

We read Over at the Castle, written by Boni Ashburn, and illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Abrams, 2010). A mother and baby dragon await nightfall outside a bustling castle. Page by page, the numerous castle activities count down until it’s time for the grand finale – a firework show, provided by the dragons!

You’ll need:

top of firework castle

Construction of this castle is very easy. First, use a box cutter to cut a drawbridge in one of the small boxes. Hot glue the drawbridge box to the top of a cake pad. Cut the top off a second box, and hot glue it on top of the drawbridge box. Decorate the castle and its base with metallic markers. We added silver mirror board battlements and some silver metallic dot stickers as well. Next, the dragon fireworks!

dragon firework constructionFold 2 sparkle stems into a V shape, then tape them to the bottom of a bunched 10″ x 10″ square of cellophane, Secure with tape. Knot one end of a 10″ piece of clear beading cord around the bunch, then secure with tape. Repeat these steps to create a second firework. Color and cut the mother and baby dragon from the template, then tape them to the free ends of the firework cords.

To create the firework show, gently tuck the fireworks into the top of the castle, but let the attached dragons dangle down the sides the castle. Grab a dragon and yank it upwards, sending it – and the attached firework – flying into the air!

dragon fireworks

Many thanks to the Hopewell branch of the Mercer County Library System (proud home of Fang the Spider) for allowing us to do pop up story time while our library is under renovation! We really appreciate it!

FEAR: The Game Show

fear the game show

Fear is healthy right? It keeps us on our toes, gives us obstacles to overcome, and adds depth to our literary characters. Fear is there to be conquered! But, as this family photo of me suggests, some fears run mighty deep. For me, it’s clowns. Clowns…and green balloons shaped like the Loch Ness Monster.

We had a discussion about fear at Cotsen Critix, our literary society for 9-12 year-olds. And while bullies, lightning storms, and spiders were all addressed, we thought it would be interesting to see how well the kids knew their literary characters’ fears. To play the game, name the character, and then have your contestants try to name the fear.

Wilbur: Being made into bacon
Captain Hook: The crocodile
Mr. Tumnas: The White Witch
The Baudelaire Orphans: Count Olaf
Matilda: Ms. Trunchbull
Peter Rabbit: Mr. McGregor
Dorothy: Wicked Witch of the West
Sherlock Holmes: Professor Moriarity
Ron Weasley: Spiders
Harry Potter: Dementors
Neville Longbottom: Snape
Professor Lupin: Full moon
Hermoine Granger: Bad grades
The Borrowers: Being discovered
Mowgli: Shere Kahn
Mrs. Frisby: Dragon the Cat
Little Orphan Annie: Ms. Hannigan
Eragon: King Galbatorix
Black Beauty: Fire
Frodo: Sauron
Taran: The Horned King
Percy Jackson: Monsters…pick one!
Lyra: Mrs. Coulter
Chester: Bunnicula
Measle: Wrathmonks
Jemmy from the Streets: A hanging
Campers at Camp Green Lake: Lizards
Ralph S. Mouse: The vacuum cleaner
Matt Cruise: The ground
Claudia and Jamie Kincaid: Being discovered
Stuart Little’s family: The mouse hole
Ella Enchanted: Stepsisters’ orders
Ramona Quimby: Picture of the gorilla
The White Rabbit: Being late!