The Kax Herberger Center for Children + the Arts

Quick Links

Puppet Show

A Lesson for Making Puppets
and Presenting Puppet Performances

Making Puppets

Music ideas for your Puppets

Your Role





Puppeteer | How to make puppets
[PDF] | [DOC]



Vocabulary | Drama + Theatre



Lessons: Drama/Theatre Theatre Source Book

Puppetry + Puppet Shows

Children love to see puppet shows and to make puppets. Many teachers believe that doing a puppet show allows shy children to succeed because they are not visible to the audience. This may be true, but hiding the students behind their puppet makes it very difficult for them to communicate their story to the audience. We believe that as soon as possible, good, old-fashioned improvisation is one of the very best ways for children to express themselves.

You can have a box of puppets ready for your students to use or you can help them create their own puppets. Here is a typical lesson for creating puppets and puppet presentations, followed by instructions for making styrofoam ball, figure-on-a-stick, paper bag, sock, and found-object puppets.

Puppet Show
Puppets are small figures of people or animals that can be
moved. The puppeteers, the people moving the puppets, often talk for the puppets, too.

Puppet shows tell stories just like plays and movies that have people as the characters.

If you want to do a puppet show, you should decide on the characters, story and setting and then create a scenario. Of course you’ll have to make the puppets and maybe even the backdrop.

Carrie Mills has given you good ideas to use if you want to make a puppet. Click on Puppeteer and have fun! But be certain to create a scenario for your puppet play so that the puppets have a problem to solve and your audience will want to watch to see what is going to happen!

Here is our example with paper bag puppets.
Title: Not a Cat!
Characters: Mrs. Jones, Darrel, the dog, and Clarissa, the cat

Mrs. Jones

Mrs. Jones

Darrel, the dog

Darrel, the dog

Clarissa, the cat

Clarissa, the cat


Mrs. Jones: Darrel, here’s a lovely new friend for you. Her name is Clarissa. I expect you to be good friends. (Mrs. Jones leaves.)

Darrel: Yikes! A cat!

Clarissa: His-s-s-s

Darrel: Go away! No cats allowed!!

Clarissa: This is my home now.

Darrel: Gr-r-r. No, No! NO!! (Chases her)

Mrs. Jones: ((Off stage)) Darrel? What is that noise?

Darrel: Nothing.

Mrs. Jones: Clarissa has a nice treat for you.

Darrel: A treat ?

Clarissa: A nice bone, you silly dog.

Darrel: Where, where, where??

Check out the puppets in the Character Game.
There are puppets for Dias de los Muertos, the Days of the Dead holiday.

A Lesson for Making Puppets and Presenting Puppet Performances


  1. Theatre
    • Learn the elements of drama: character, setting, plot
    • Use materials to create a puppet character
    • Improvise dialogue to fit the character and tell the story
    • Develop presentation skills: concentration, listening and responding to the other performers, appropriate volume and vocal variety
    • Critique their and others’ drama work
  1. Language Arts
  2. Listening and responding

Your role

  1. Help the students develop scenarios. Then help them choose the puppet characters they wish to enact the play.
  2. Show the students your model puppet and explain how you made the decisions about how to make the puppet look and how you made the puppet.
  3. Distribute the materials.
  4. Supervise student drawing, cutting and assembling of their puppet
  5. Model improvising mini scenes with the children using your puppet to help them hear the dialogue and see the action they can achieve with their puppets.
  6. Have the students practice improvising their scenes in small groups. – acting Also check out the materials for the students in the Theatre Book: acting atand improvisation.
  7. Present the shows, being certain that the students are ready to be a good audience.
  8. Critique the puppet shows as you would a regular improvisation. Here are some possible questions to ask the students
  9. Did the actors stay in character? When was their concentration good? When could you believe them?
    • When could you hear what the actors were saying?
    • When were the actors listening to one another?
    • When did the dialogue answer what the other characters said?
    • When did the dialogue help tell the story?
    • When did the dialogue let you know about the characters?
    • When could you see what the puppets were doing?
    • When did the action, what the puppets did, help to tell the story?
  1. Have fun.

Making Puppets

Styrofoam Ball Puppets


Figure-on-a Stick Puppets

There are instructions for the students to draw puppet characters at the second activity in the Character Game.

Also, we have the children make puppets for the Mexican holiday, Dias de los Muertos.



Paper Bag Puppets


  1. self-standing, square bottomed, lunch bag for each student
  2. colored paper for puppet features
  3. sissors
  4. glue


  1. Draw features, eyes, nose, ears, hair, etc., on colored paper.
  2. Cut out, glue on the bottom of the bag
  3. Mouth is usually indicated by the tongue that is glued under the flap created by the bottom of the bag as it folds over the side
  4. To make manipulation easier, it is possible to glue a strap on the inside of the bottom of the bag for the fingers to slip through with the thumb remaining below the flap to make it possible to move the "face" on the bottom of the bag to indicate "talking."



Sock Puppets


  1. a plain sock – small socks for small kids
  2. safety pins to secure mouth (can just tuck it in or tack with a sewing stitch)
  3. stuffing for head – cotton or polyfil (optional)
  4. bits of colored fabric to sew or glue on for the puppet’s features; buttons for eyes and nose; yarn for the hair; we’ve even used colored masking to create features
  5. sissors, needle and thread, glue


  1. Put the sock on your hand with the heel at your wrist (where the face of your watch would be). With children you can say "Put the nose where the toes goes."
  2. Tuck in the "mouth"
  3. Safety pin (on the inside) the back of the mouth to the back of the head. When you put the puppet on your hand, the safety pin slides between your middle and ring fingers. Or sew a couple of stitches on each corner of the mouth. It is possible, in the classroom, to just tuck in the mouth without securing it.
  4. Add eyes, nose, hair, stuffing, etc. (On the puppet to the left, we used masking tape and colored paper for the eyes; red fabric for the tongue. For the puppet on the right, we sewed on the nose, eyes and hair. Neither has the stuffing for the head.) The puppets can be as elaborate or simple as you choose.

(We owe much of these instructions to Gordon Hensley.)



Found Object Puppets

One of the really talented puppeteers we saw work with children and teachers, George Latshaw, loved to stretch the imagination by having them use found objects for the puppets – a wooden spoon, an egg beater or whisk, a toilet paper roll, a paper towel roll, a fly swatter, objects found on a treasure hunt. The point was to examine the object and decide its character; then improvise a scene with other puppet characters. The sky’s the limit.

Our tube puppets’ the Klink family – Randy, Mandy, Sandy and Andy – on their way to Disney Land




Music ideas for your puppet

Harpsichord 549 KB .mp3 file    Tuba 281 KB .mp3 file    Drums 824 KB .mp3 file

  1. How did your puppet move differently when she danced to the different kinds of music?
  2. How did the different music change the way your puppet felt? You’ve been manipulating your puppet, making your puppet move. This is what puppeteers do. Perhaps you’d like to find a friend who has a puppet and you can make a puppet play. Your puppets can talk to one another and use their movement to tell a story.

You’ve been manipulating your puppet, making your puppet move. This is what puppeteers do. Perhaps you’d like to find a friend who has a puppet and you can make a puppet play. Your puppets can talk to one another and use their movement to tell a story.

Your Role

  1. Introduce students to a couple of Found Object Puppets
  2. Have them bring materials from home for a puppet, but, of course, do have materials for those who forget!
  3. Give the students time to manipulate the materials to find a "character" for their object
  4. We painted our tube puppets, but the students can just glue on features, hair, clothing
  5. Put the students in pairs to improvise a scene
  6. Have them share the scenes and have the audience discuss what they saw and heard. See the links to Acting, Improvisation, and Audience in the lesson, above.

Whatever puppets you choose to have the students make, creating and presenting puppet performances is a fine time to teach playwriting.