Wayang Kulit: the Shadow Plays of Bali and Java Lesson Plan



Students will learn about the shadow plays of Bali and Java.  They will learn about the Ramayana, a popular story that is traditionally performed in Wayang Kulit (leather shadow puppets).  Students will be assigned a part from a reader’s theater play and create a puppet using cardboard for the character that they have been assigned.  Finally, students will perform their own play using their puppets.


  • Crayola GelFX (Gel Effects) Markers
  • Sargent Art Metallic Tempera – Gold, 8 oz
  • paint brushes
  • 9″ x 12″ chipboard cardboard
  • scissors
  • paper fasteners
  • Heavy Duty Screw Punch
  • Self Healing Green Cutting Mat 8.5 x 12 inches


  • Rama and the Demon King
  • Rama and Sita: A Tale from Ancient Java
  • Wayang Kulit Powerpoint Presentation
  • Balinese Dance, Drama and Music: A Guide to the Performing Arts of Bali
  • Indonesian Folktales (World Folklore Series)


  • view the introductory presentation about Wayang Kulit.
  • read the book Rama and the Demon King: An Ancient Tale from India or Rama and Sita: A Tale from Ancient Java The illustrations in Rama and Sita are excellent examples of Wayang Kulit, but the text is a little high for grade three.  Rama and the Demon King is clear, accessible and brief.  Sometimes I show the illustrations from Rama and Sita and read the text from Rama and the Demon King.
  • Assign students a part from a Reader’s Theater Play.
  • Design the puppet in a sketchbook.  I have found that it works best to have students only have a moving arm that is articulated at the shoulder and the elbow.  Many students want to have a wagging tail or a moving mouth, but if you have a large class size (like I do) it can be difficult to coach the students to make parts for these ideas that are large enough to put a paper fastener through without ripping the puppet.  Model a few designs on the board and show how to make a face in profile.
  • Draw the puppet on a piece of cardboard and color with Gel Effects Markers.  Paint on highlights with gold tempera paint.
  • Cut out the puppet and assemble using a screw punch, cutting mat and paper fasteners.
  • Atatch a wire to the body and a wire to the hand so the puppeteer can move the puppet.
  • Perform your puppet show with a sheet hung up in front of an overhead projector.

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