Shadow Puppet Show Story Retelling and Performance

Shadow Puppet Show Story Retelling and Performance

Example :Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Activities that can be adapted for a sequence of lessons linking primary language learning and drama  with familiar tales for :

Early stage learners

 : Simple utterances of single words and phrases 

Developing language learners 

: simple sentence story telling

Established and moving on learners

 : using more complex sentences

It’s mid way through the year in our network and the schools have established patterns of language learning with their different year groups and stages not ages of learners across KS2 and also in KS1

We love story telling and we encourage performance by the children of the stories as this allows them to practise simple language , build questions and answers and create an outcome that demands they apply primary language learning and drama skills and techniques.

Last year we decided to develop puppet stories with KS1 and then later with KS2. We created a series of resources and stories based on mini beasts and sea creatures , which we all loved using. The children worked as a class to access the language and then in differentiated ability groups they worked together to  develop their own class and also group puppet performances of the simple stories to share with other classes.

I try to ensure that the stories we develop in school contains key and learner appropriate  transactional language within it which is transferable to general age appropriate conversation e.g. last year one of our stories was based around children looking for people to play a game (Who wants  to play?  Can I play? I don’t want to play! Come and join in with us!).

We are now getting ready  for work this year with the children on

storytelling of traditional tales

.We will focus for example on Jack and the Beanstalk, the Enormous Turnip and Goldilocks and the Three Bears .

We may show,share and read stories with the children containing quite complex language but in the lessons around the story I think it's important that we break the language down to the basic story line, so that all the children can participate ultimately in a performance based target language retelling of the story. 

Below are a sequence of activities /lessons based around the story of “

Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and a shadow puppet story

On holiday last year in France , I purchased this wonderful book – no words just simple black and white pictures . “Boucle d’or et les trois ours!” (Rascal – PASTEL publications) ISBN 978-2-211-06423-1

It’s absolutely brilliant! 

Boucle d'or et les trois ours Rascal Pastel

We can use it in French , Spanish , German , Mandarin etc in our network.

It led me to the idea that  to develop quality learning of storytelling and sequencing using target language learning 

this year 

I would develop a series of lessons based on shadow puppets and  silhouettes.

At a CPD evening with my language teaching colleagues from JLN , Joanne, suggested that the idea of shadow puppets would fit very well with her school’s Science project on “light and dark” !

She decided she would use the lesson sequence guide below with her shadow puppets to tell the story via an overhead projector and a screen link! 

So here are my stages of learning based on

Goldilocks and the three bears

and shadow puppets .My eventual performance and creative outcomes can support  the following stages of language learning:

Activities can be adapted to suit  :

1.Early stage learners

: Simple utterances of single words and phrases (possibly with the teacher or a child from a later stage of learning e.g .Y5 or Y 6 children working with Y3 as narrator )

2.Developing language learners

: simple sentence story telling using nouns, verbs and adjectives

3.Established and moving on learners

: using more complex sentences with adjectives ,conjunctions and action verbs , adverbs and possibly prepositions.

Support and sequencing of activities for the different stages

The sequence of activities will be the same for all learners and their stages of language development. The support may be different – so you may need:

  • a speaking frame or prompt bubbles with key words and phrases for the children displayed at the front of the class
  • you may offer children in stages 2 and 3 access to the bilingual dictionaries

Sequence of activities


The story line

.Discuss the story the children already know in English to re-familiarise the children with the story line . Introduce your shadow puppets for the four main characters in the target language .Can the children say the characters names in the target language to a partner and link the shadow puppet to a character in the story book that the class has been reading in the lesson. 


Shadow Puppet Parade

. Practise greeting the puppets in the target language , asking the puppets their names and how they are feeling – based on the story and ask for volunteers to offer possible responses. Select several children to come out and hold the shadow puppets and respond to the questions from the class on behalf of the shadow puppets .Encourage the more advanced learners to use more extended feelings e.g. I am hungry / scared /angry / frightened  etc (We teach extended feelings from the start of Y5 )

Say a phrase exchange

Give children their own smaller versions of the puppets and in groups of four ask the children to play a game called “Say a phrase exchange” .The children say a phrase that matches their puppet and each child in the group of four has its turn to speak and share and then the puppets are exchanged so the children give their puppet to the child to their right and the activity begins again . The only rule is that the next child can not say what the immediately previous child might have said. Once the game is established encourage the children to add voices for their puppets .



“Who is it?”

In this activity practise introducing the characters in a full first person sentence or a full third person singular sentence e.g Hello I am Goldilocks or Hello it’’s Daddy Bear”  and allow the children to practise the question “Who is it?. They may want to use both utterances in their puppet shows.

Practise the key phrase  “Who is it?“ with the children and then ask them to echo your character’s voice as they repeat the question after you. Can they decide by the tone of your voice – who is asking the question (Dad, Mum. Baby Bear or Goldilocks?).They must respond with a greetings phrase e.g Hello I am ..... or Hello it is ....


Call a character

. This means the children should after counting 1,2,3 call out the question “Who is it?” and you should call a character and the children should respond with the key phrase “Hello I am ......” plus a character and a  correct tone of  voice. This can be played as pairs and in groups to consolidate


Memory tray

This activity is so that the children can practise the names of the key items : chair/ soup/ bed/ house / and the characters . It’s just a simple game we have all played where we try to remember the items on a tray/ a power point slide / a flip chart and the items are removed one by one or replaced and other items are removed . Once you have practised all the items ,remove an item whilst the children hide their eyes  and then they open their eyes.Can the children say what is missing?


Memory tray mimes

. Ask the children to work with a partner and   think of mimes and movements that portray the items from the memory tray game . Suggest that the mimes should portray the object or its use and ask them to add a physical  movement that conveys the  sound of the word e.g. is it a quick word, a smooth sound word, a hard quick sounding word etc. (They do not actually say the word but they should mime and move like the word). Their mime should reflect the sound and the object .Can the pair work with another pair and can the second pair name the objects and then share their mimes.They can then play a game of memory mime tray , where each child performs all the mimes but misses out  an object – which one is it? With developing and moving on learners ask them to use a key question “What is it? “ and  “What’s missing ? and for the response to use a full sentence “It is ....” and The .... is missing”


Venn diagram descriptions

. Recall the story in English and then retell in the target language for the children using your original story . Emphasise and practise with the children the utterances by Goldilocks about each object e.g...

Chair-  too hard / too soft / just right

Soup – too hot / too cold/ just right

Bed-     too big / too small / just right

Now lay out on the floor in an open space plastic hoops with labels from above (too hot etc). Ask children to decide where each object  for each bear could be put  according to what Goldilocks thinks of the object– for example sometimes the children may decide to put an object in the link between too big and too cold etc  or juts to put the object in the hoop with the label too hot. Let the class decide  .

Give out paper versions of the Venn diagram and card cut outs of the objects (3 objects per items e.g. 3 chairs). Each child must select an object and working in groups of 4 can the children decide how to describe the objects . Early learners use simple descriptive utterances but developing and moving on learners say full sentence spoken descriptions of the items and place them on their Venn diagram . The group is in control of the descriptions and where they want to place the objects .  Ask each group at the end of the activity to share their  ideas with a second group and /or the class. They should say the utterances to describe the objects as if they were Goldilocks and demonstrate her reaction.


Now the  children can create their own shadow puppet performance of the story .They will need shadow puppets. They should use all the language they have practised and must add emotions to the story by the use of their voices . 

They will need shadow puppets :

Objects such as the soup bowls to show the class or add to their stage set and scenery

They will also need story boards to support them to sequence their stories  with simple picture prompts. Here's an example of what some of the story board looks like .... (Children cud be give pictures to place into the sequence of the story in the order that they want to retell and perform it.