Young children are fascinated by puppets and you can easily make simple ones to provide hours of amusement. Puppets allow children to escape from reality into an imaginary world. They encourage shy children to verbalize and help children with poor communication skills. You can easily make your own puppets at home to both educate and amuse your child.
Share these with your child and then suggest that you could make some puppets together:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone
A Woggle of Witches by Adrienne Adams
The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs by Phoebe Gilman
Glove, Mitten and Sock Puppets by Frieda Gates
Pocketful of Puppets: Mother Goose Rhymes by Tamara Hunt and Nancy Renfro
Instant Puppets for Kids by Lois Walker
For a delightful surprize wear an apron with a pocket and have a puppet peeking out of the pocket, or make a puppet pop out of an old purse, or even a paper bag, by cutting a hole in the bottom, and then manipulating the puppet through the hole.
Set the Stage
To make a puppet stage, use a chair or coffee table turned on its side. A rod with a curtain threaded on it and suspended between two chairs makes a great puppet theater.
For a 'mini' puppet theater cut a square from the front of a plastic dishwashing detergent bottle. Cut the top off. Draw, color and cut out people or animals and attach to popsicle sticks by their heads. Your child can then dangle the puppets in the 'bottle' theater.
Finger and Foot Puppets
Finger puppets are easy to make. Draw and color a character on a piece of paper and cut it out. Then cut a strip of paper to circle your finger and glue the cut out character to it. Store your finger puppets in an empty egg carton or a muffin tin.
Foot puppets are great fun. Trace the bottom of a shoe onto a piece of paper. Cut this out and attach it to the bottom of the shoe with masking tape. Decorate it with a face. Now put the shoe on, lie down on your back and move the shoe puppet along a bench or low table. You could also paint a face directly onto the bottom of the foot – make sure you use water paints that can be easily washed!
Glove and Sock Puppets
Take an old glove and attach (with a glue gun) velcro pieces to each finger. Attach the other part of the velcro pieces to felt animals, birds, people etc. "Old MacDonald" is a great starter. Make a pipe cleaner Farmer MacDonald and then use felt shapes for his animals.
Sock puppets can be made with old clean socks. Glue features to the foot end of the socks using fabric scraps, buttons, felt scraps etc.
Puppets to go with Books
Add a circle of pink sponge to a straw or popsicle stick, decorate the sponge with an egg carton snout and a pipe cleaner tail to make one of the pig characters found in the Jillian Jiggs book.
An egg carton would make a great caterpillar pull-along-puppet. Cut an egg carton lengthwise (6 sections). Paint it green, yellow, or any other color! Add googly eyes and pipe cleaner legs. Cut out some food shapes and make up a puppet play to accompany The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Brown paper bags make excellent lion puppets to accompany Dandelion by Don Freeman, or for church school teachers Daniel and the Lion.
You can make life-size puppets by using big cartons (laundry detergent etc) Cover them with paper, decorate them as the body of the puppet character. Add a paper plate face with yarn hair. Add cardboard or thick card arms and legs. Thread thick string through the 'shoulders' of the body and tie around the chest of your child. If they hold the ends of the arms they can move the puppet. Encourage your child to perform simple dance routines with the puppet in front of a full length mirror.
Many other puppet devices
Raid your kitchen. Puppets can be made from wooden spoons, potato mashers, spatulas, soup ladles, etc.
Shadow puppets are always fun. Shine a large flashlight on the wall and create characters with your hands, feet, waving objects etc.
Dunn,Sonja. Butterscotch Dreams. Pembroke Publishers. 1987
Author's own experiences.