Si Kancil dan Buaya – An Indonesian Folktale

I’m sure you’re all VERY familiar with the famous Indonesian Kancil Folktales, am I right? Of course, I am! The most popular of traditional Indonesian folklore that has been around for hundreds of years, told orally from one generation to the next. I bet we’ve all got a copy or two of the Kancil Indonesian folktales sitting on our bookcase, we’ve all read them numerous times {I’m sure!}, we’ve all used them in our Indonesian classes and if we’re honest…I’d say we all just LOVE them! Today I want to share with you the story of ‘Si Kancil dan Buaya – An Indonesian Folktale’ – I’m guessing it’s probably one of the most well known of the Kancil folktales.

I know, I’ve written about the famous Kancil folktales before, but as it’s one of my most viewed blog posts, I thought I would do a prelude to my first post. My first post focuses on the story ‘Mousedeer becomes King’ {in English} plus some wayang kancil templates of Kancil, Harimau and Kambing so that students can make their own ‘wayang kancil’. If you haven’t seen it, you can find my first post ‘Kancil Folktales’ here.

Soooo, today I want to share with you, especially for the Primary Indonesian teachers out there, the story of ‘Mousedeer and Crocodile’ or ‘Si Kancil dan Buaya’ {in English and Indonesian} as well as the wayang kancil templates to go with the story so you and your students can make your own shadow puppet stories/plays or ‘Wayang Kancil’.

So, here’s my simplified version of…


Si Kancil was a very clever mouse deer. He was the smartest animal in the jungle. Whenever he was in a bad situation, he always played tricks on the other animals and was able to escape the situation.

Si Kancil liked to look for food near the river. There were many trees near the river so he always had lots of food to eat. Si Kancil liked eating leaves from the trees. Si Kancil also liked to play near the river; he liked to run and jump near the river whilst searching for food.

Buaya was a a very big crocodile. He was the biggest buaya in the river. He was also very evil. Buaya lived in the river with all his crocodile friends. They were always waiting for the time to catch Kancil and eat him.

One day, Si Kancil was walking along near the river, he saw some delicious fruit on the trees on the other side of the river. Si Kancil tried to think how he could cross to the other side of the river safely. He had to be careful because Buaya and his friends were in the river and he knew they wanted to eat him.

Suddenly, Si Kancil had a good idea!

He called out to Buaya; “Buaya! Buaya!”

Buaya came out of the river and asked Kancil; “Why are you shouting my name?” Then he opened his mouth very wide so that Si Kancil could see his big, sharp teeth.

Si Kancil said; “Of course, I am scared of you, Buaya, but the King has asked me to help him. The King is having a big party with lots of food and he is inviting all of the animals in the jungle, including you and your friends. But first, I have to count all of you so that the King knows how many crocodiles will come to the party. Please make a line, so that I can walk across your heads and count you all.”

Buaya was very happy and he went searching for his friends to tell them that the King will have a big party and lots of food.

Soon, Buaya and all his friends came and made a line across the river.

Si Kancil said: “Promise not to eat me because if you eat me then I can’t tell the King how many crocodiles there are and then you won’t be able to go to the King’s party.”

Buaya and his friends promised not to eat him.

Si Kancil stepped on Buaya’s head and counted; “One…”. Then he stepped on all the crocodiles heads and counted them; “Two…Three…Four…Five…Six…Seven…Eight…Nine…Ten!”

And he finally reached the other side of the river. Then he said to Buaya; “Thank you for helping me cross the river to my new home!”

Buaya was shocked and very angry! He shouted at Si Kancil; “You tricked me and my friends! There is no party, is there?”

All of the crocodiles looked at Buaya, they were very angry with him.

Si Kancil was very happy in his new home because he had lots of delicious food there. Si Kancil could eat fruit all day long.

Poor, Buaya. After that day, none of the crocodiles wanted to be his friend again.

A copy of the story Si Kancil dan Buaya in bahasa Indonesia can be downloaded here.

I’ve included the text of the story in both English and Indonesian so that you can decide which is your preference to use taking into account your curriculum planning and goals, your student’s age and language abilities, and what type of activity you are focussing on. Either version of the story could be simplified even further if you are working with very young learners.

Which leads me to discussing a few of the different activities that you could include in your Indonesian Languages classes. Of course, as I have mentioned, once you have read the story to your students then it’s time to get creative and ask students to design/create their own animal shadow puppets or ‘Wayang Kancil’, which they can use to re-tell the folktale of Si Kancil dan Buaya or another Kancil folktale or even an imaginative story that they write themselves.

Students can re-tell the story in Indonesian {a simplified version} or in English. You could also discuss other folktales or stories that your students know of about animals wanting to cross the river, cross the bridge, cross the road. Students could write their own version of the story, using the idea of an Indonesian animal wanting to cross over to the other side of something eg. a Komodo dragon wanting to cross a shark infested ocean to get to another island. {And if you’re wondering, yes, Komodos can swim!}

When making your shadow puppets or wayang kancil, for younger students you can use the templates provided below and for older students, I would ask them to design their own animal puppet templates, it’s very simple! Once students have chosen an animal template or made their own design, paste the template design onto card {I always use manilla folders for this type of art work, as they are stable and cheap and one manilla folder can be used for several students! Money saver!} Once the template is pasted onto the manilla folder, let it dry and then students can cut it out and colour it in if chosen {not essential}. I generally use fairy floss sticks {purchased from an Art Supply shop} – as they are flat and firm and can be easily taped to the back of the puppet template with masking tape.

I have included links at the bottom of this page for a PDF of each of the animal templates for this story; Si Kancil {Mousedeer} and Buaya {Crocodile}. *Please note: Puppet stencil templates can be enlarged to suit the type/size of the shadow puppet screen you have.

Other activity ideas could include:

  • learn more about Indonesian animals e.g. oranghutan, komodo, harimau, kancil
  • read other Kancil folktales to your students so they learn about more of Kancil’s adventures
  • extend the number of crocodiles in the story so that all students can be involved in one big performance {also extending their knowledge of numbers up to 20+}
  • students re-enact the story using their arms as snapping crocodiles whilst they count
  • students create backgrounds and props for their shadow puppet performance e.g. trees, fruit, river
  • students video their shadow puppet performance {or you could video it for younger students}
  • make a big book of the story with students illustrating each page of the book
  • students create an e-book of a Kancil story using digital images
  • students create a wall story or mural of the story

and the list could go on and on.

So, there you have it teman-teman, some ideas on Wayang Kancil, traditional Indonesian folktales and creating shadow puppet plays in the Indonesian classroom. Hopefully you’ve found something in here that sparked some enthusiasm for a new idea for your Indonesian Languages program.

Dan jangan lupa…have fun! Young language learners will LOVE learning through storytelling, drama, puppets and having some fun!


Do you include Kancil folktales in your Indonesian Languages Program?

Do your students love hearing Indonesian folktales? What’s your fav?

Have you made ‘Wayang Kancil’ with your students before? Was it a success?

Have another Kancil folktale that you’d love me to create puppet templates for?

Drop me a comment and let me know! I’ll see what I can do! 😉



Si Kancil


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