Shadow puppets

by Deb on October 5, 2012

Shadow puppets

I‘ve had a soft spot for shadow puppets ever since the big girl was a baby and would get hysterical in the car at night. A little torch shining at her feet or the toys dangling over her and she would stop screaming and happily watch the dancing shadows.

I was very disappointed to discover that the latest energy-saver, ecologically friendly light bulbs don’t do shadows very well.

Unlike the old, environmentally nasty ones, they are a very diffuse light source. Because you are getting light from both edges, you don’t get a nice crisp shadow. If you have any old torches with incandescent globes try them, although the reflectors tend to spread it. Single LEDs might be the best bet, otherwise you have to have your shape so close to the wall you can’t see the shadow.

But there is another way!

A few minutes cutting and a fitted sheet stretched over a couple of chairs, the lamp on the floor and voila! An extremely easy little puppet theatre. And my girls love putting on shows and telling stories.

Science?

We see because of light energy bouncing into our eyes. Some things let light through and others don’t, that’s part of energy transmission. Light doesn’t need anything to carry it, like wires carry electricity, which is why it can travel through space to get to us from the sun. Light travels in straight lines called rays, and you can draw ray diagrams that explain why some of those shadows are fuzzy. But mostly, shadows are fun to play with.

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