Our Work > MagPiE
The Magic of Puppetry in Education
Welcome to our Magic of Puppetry in Education (MagPiE) pages. This page details the products and services we have available for schools and educational groups. This branch of our work aims to bring many different forms of puppetry into schools, help teachers discuss and address different issues and inspire creativity in young people. We specialise in shadow puppetry accompanied by live music, a style we have termed MiST (Music in Shadow Theatre) but we also offer gigante, table-top, glove and hand puppetry workshops.
Creative learning is beneficial to children in many ways and can help address key themes of the National Curriculum in a direct or indirect way. We take a flexible approach in developing our workshops for each establishment and we will endeavour to meet your specific requirements. Each of our projects can be tailored to suit different Key Stages, age groups, class sizes, the time available and your agendas, syllabus or topics.
Development of our workshops was supported by the University of Derby Community Fund
Below a video we made in 2011 to promote ourselves to schools and explain the work we do.
Our workshops are competitively priced. Costs vary depending upon material and travel costs. We promote re-use and recycling of materials for all of our puppet-making workshops and ask participants to help source making materials which also helps reduce the costs of the workshops.
Below is further information regarding individual products and specific projects. For more information, to ask a question or to discuss your ideas please do not hesitate in contacting us through the website or at .
Key Stage 1
Introduction to Puppetry
For those aged 4-7 years, we offer an interactive, Q&A-style demonstration introducing different aspects of puppetry including: its history, definition and uses; an explanation of the different types of puppets and their popularity in different parts of the world; an introduction to performance, characterisation and emotional expression; development of hand movement, dexterity and control; having a go at performing; and the chance to ask us questions.
Shadow Puppet-Making Workshop
Workshop making simple shadow puppets using templates with the opportunity to perform in a pop-up theatre.
Key Stage 2
For those aged 8-11, we offer a range of shadow puppet theatre workshops. Shadow puppetry is an accessible artform requiring only basic skills such as drawing, cutting and sticking and provides additional opportunities for creative experimentation, music, creating soundscapes and vocal acting.
Introduction to Shadow Puppetry
An interactive, Q&A-style demonstration introducing the pupils to different aspects of shadow puppetry including: theory and staging, properties of light, colour and shadow, materials, transparency and texture, focus, puppet characteristics, projection through solids and liquids and performance techniques. It includes a performance of a short, shadow theatre show and provides an opportunity for the pupils to have a go and ask questions. Perfect it you plan to create your own show.
Shadow Puppet Theatre Workshop
A workshop where the pupils, working in small groups, write, design, make, rehearse and perform their own shadow puppet theatre show with live musical accompaniment. We will guide them through the various stages introducing key aspects and effects through the day. The workshop can be on any theme you wish the students to explore; for example, historical events or people, environments and ecosystems, different countries and cultures, literature, scientific discovery or their own creative writing.
"Thank you Funny Wonders. We had a fabulous day!"
Hollinsclough Primary School
Key Stages 3-4
For those aged 11-18, we offer a range of workshops for a range of subjects. Below is a brief summary: please contact us for more detailed information. Although they have been split into different subjects, there is cross-over and workshops can be tailor-made to requirements to suit any combination.
Workshops can be delivered over one or two days or throughout a term, depending upon availability and the timeline of the project. They involve students working in small groups and culminate in a performance. A separate introduction prior to the workshop day may be appropriate if combined with a coursework-related or group research project.
Shadow puppet workshops are used for more action-driven, visual topics; glove puppet workshops for more speech-driven, conversational topics; and other 3D puppets (gigante, rod, marionette, animatronic etc) for more technical, skill-development workshops.
If facilities are available, live performances can be exchanged with film-production workshops, recording their shows (puppetry, narration/dialogue, music/sound effects) in separate parts and editing them together. This can be achieved with smart phones/video cameras and basic editing software. Whilst extending the process and the length of the workshop it adds another layer to the experience, their skill development and incorporates more current technologies.
We can also arrange a 'Rock Band' workshop with local band 'Purple Cloud of Funk'. Click here for more information.
Design & Technology
Workshops making complex puppets (gigante, marionettes, animatronic shadow or glove puppets) incorporating problem-solving and design criteria or stained-glass window-effect workshops.
Workshops written and performed in the foreign language based on culture, historical events, people, literature, myths, legends or religion; or for debate, documentary or news programme.
Workshops exploring: evolution, habitats and ecosystems; biotic or abiotic cycles; the history of scientific discoveries and inventions; the properties and best uses of different materials; or the sound properties of different materials and how to create musical instruments.
Art & Design
Shadow puppet workshops exploring famous paintings or artistic/architectural ages.
History of Art
An introduction to the history, expansion and adaptation of art through Europe using Mr Punch as an example and study of the ‘comic fool’ character through time combined with glove or shadow puppet-making workshops.
Workshops exploring: the history of puppetry around the world, ancient civilisations, historical events, objects or people.
Workshops based on literature and/or creative writing, debate, documentary or a news programme.
Gigante puppets are large puppets operated by several people. They can be created for festivals, parades, school productions and other projects. Typically, one puppet can be made in 6-12 hours, preferably in two sessions with 8-10 students; although these numbers are flexible depending upon requirements, the group size and the time available. A lead in time of approximately two weeks is required to allow the basic framework to be designed and any specific materials to be collected.
Our own music workshop, based on turning rubbish and junk into musical instruments, was inspired by acts such as 'Stomp' and developed alongside our ‘Urashima- Taró: A Transition Tale’ piece. This workshop gives people instrument building and playing experience and provides an introduction to music from other cultures, as it includes traditional Brazilian and African rhythm.
Workshops exploring architecture, landscapes, culture and customs of different countries