How to Make Amazing Hand Shadow Puppets

Written by jessica frame
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How to Make Amazing Hand Shadow Puppets
Create shadow puppets using a light source and your hands. (shadow image by Dennis Carrigan from

Using a light and a back drop or wall, you can easily create shadow puppets with your hands to entertain children and guests. There are simple hand shadow puppets as well as complicated ones. Practicing different shapes with your hands is trial and error but will open the door to creating many different shadow puppets for amusement and pleasure.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Lamp
  • Wall

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  1. 1

    Prepare an area to practice hands puppets. Set up a lamp or strong flashlight a couple feet away from the wall.

  2. 2

    Place a chair beside the light source, so that when you sit down you are parallel to the wall. Be sure to sit three or four feet away from the wall. The closer you sit to the wall, the smaller your hand shadow puppets will be.

  3. 3

    Begin with simple hand shadow puppets, like a dog's head. To do this, point the back of your hand toward the wall with your thumb sticking straight up. You can make the dog's mouth move by moving your little finger up and down.

  4. 4

    Create a goose head. Place your thumb underneath the other four fingers, like you are playing with an actual puppet. Open and close your hand to make the goose quack.

  5. 5

    Place both hands together at the wrist, overlap your thumbs, and stretch your fingers out, but leave them together to create a bird. Wave your fingers together to create a flapping effect.

  6. 6

    Try different shapes with your hands. This will allow you to experiment with different shapes and create new shadow puppets with your hands.

  7. 7

    Create an elephant, a more difficult shadow puppet. Cup your dominant hand on top of your non-dominant hand, allowing the light to show through. This is the head and the light coming through will make an eye for your elephant. On your non-dominant hand, leave your pointer and middle finger pointing down, towards the floor, this is the trunk. Stick your little and ring finger straight out kind of staggered on your non-dominant hand, these are the tusks.

  8. 8

    Try incorporating small objects into your routine, such as a marble or a stick. You can hold these small objects in your hands or between your fingers to add more detail to the shadow puppets you are creating.

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