My favorite summer activity we do each year is our Shadow Puppet Theater Performance. We invite our family over to watch an original show written and performed by my kids. We've been doing this for 7 YEARS!
It's very simple to make your own Shadow Puppet Theater! I bought a sheet for a couple dollars at Goodwill. All they had there at the time was a peach color. I would have preferred white; however the pale pastel color peach works just fine too. You can still see through it perfectly when you shine a light behind it.
I made sure to sew a small pocket, with each end open, at the top of the sheet so we could slip a PVC pipe through it to hang. We now own a set of Fort Magic which works GREAT to build our theater on. We've been using our Fort Magic set for several years.
To get the theater look, I used some painters tape around the edges of our sheet, and painted it with house paint I had on hand. I made sure to do several coats so you can't see through it when the light shines behind.
Through the years our transparency puppet collection has grown. Each year we do a different performance, and typically will chose a new character to make. Sometimes I have printed the characters on transparencies, but most of the time I have printed a coloring picture of the character out, and then I transfer it to the transparency by tracing over it with a permanent marker.
I've tried using super glue to attach the transparencies to small dowel rods, but they often fall apart and break off during the show. Now I simply use a couple pieces of clear tape to get them to stick. If it's good tape, you won't even be able to see it!
We always make a day of summer fun with our theater performance. We write the story ourselves, make the characters, we practice repeatedly until it's perfect. And we invite family to watch the show in the evening. We also like to provide some yummy snacks for everyone. The boys will often take drink orders before the show, and will bring a treat to everyone during the intermission. The kids love this part of serving!
This night is always a favorite for all. It's so fun to watch the kids act out the show through shadow puppets and I love the different voices they do for each character. They always make me laugh. I enjoy it just as much as a night out at an expensive theater.
To make things funny, this year we decided to do our play based on the game Mash. We wanted our main character to be my husband since he wouldn't get to participate in the planning. The kids thought he would make a great main character. All of us chose one suggestion for each category of the Mash game. If our suggestion ended up being chosen, that meant we had to write that part of the story. It was so much fun! This play ended up being a collaboration of all four of us writing different parts to Titus' Grand Life. It was silly and memorable. I know the kids will remember this night for quite a while!