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Javanese shadow puppets

Key facts

  • Suitable for: Key Stage 2
  • Subjects: Citizenship, Design and technology, Geography, Science
  • Session type: Museum led
  • Duration: 50 minutes minutes
  • Class size (maximum): 32
  • Venue: World Museum


Java, an island in Indonesia, is famous for its shadow puppet theatre. Performances have been taking place there for over 1,000 years and can still be seen today.
This hands-on workshop offers pupils a unique opportunity to touch real puppets from Java and see how shadows puppets can be used to tell traditional stories.

Further details

During the first part of the workshop a member of the museum staff  will encourage the pupils to find out what traditional materials have been used  to make the puppets and how they are used to create shadows.  

The pupils will then discover how to identify both good and bad characters from their features and colour as they listen to a short version of the traditional Ramayana story.

During the second part of the workshop, pupils will be able to make their own puppet to take back to school.

We need adult help to ensure the pupils have the best possible experience and ensure the safety of these unique objects. You must bring at least one adult per eight children for this workshop.

This workshop can be linked with:

  • An activity trail looking at artefacts from other cultures in Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas on the World Cultures gallery on level 3 (teacher-led)

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

Pupils will:

  • ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
  • increase their familiarity with myths and legends  from other cultures and traditions
  • develop their knowledge about the world
  • recognise that shadows are formed when the light from a light source is blocked by a solid object 
  • find patterns in the way that the size of shadows change


Pupils will:

  • recognise and identify artefacts used in the sessions and some of the evidence they reveal about another culture and the skill of the puppeteer
  • give reasoned answers backed up by evidence  
  • improve their speaking and listening skills in a group discussion context
  • retell a story orally
  • use maps, and  globes to locate countries
  • make a puppet, exploring how they can be made stronger, stiffer and more stable.


Pupils will:

  • be introduced to the work of curators and the reasons why the museum has a collection of objects from around the world.
  • appreciate that the objects they are working with have been brought to Liverpool from abroad and have to be treated with respect
  • understand how our knowledge of the world  is constructed from a range of sources


Pupils will

  • begin to understand mutual respect and tolerance in a diverse society.
  • appreciate that the objects they are working with have to be treated with respect
  • see World Museum as a resource for research to help understand the culture of other countries.