Paper Bag Puppets

These are made by stuffing a small paper bag for the head, adding features with crayons or paints.

Equipment needed: scissors; paint and brushes or crayons; paste and glue; pencil.

Materials needed: paper bags-any size (5-8 lb. recommended); string; cardboard; construction paper; material for stuffing.


1. Make a plan for the head, and sketch in roughly (Fig. XIII-3). Divide bag in thirds, horizontally: top for hair, middle for face, lower part for shoulders.

2. Draw or paint eyes, nose, mouth, eyebrows. Make features exaggerated, even caricatured. Hair may be drawn, painted, or made from colored paper, raveled rope, or grass. Curly hair is made from long strips of paper curled over the blade of scissors, and pasted to the head. Moustaches and beards are made in similar fashion. A nose that sticks out from the face is made by folding a triangle and pasting it in place. Ears are cut out, and pasted or stapled by the edges to sides of head (Figs. XIII-3 a, b, c). 3. Stuff head with crushed newspaper, grass, etc. Tie string around under "chin" (Fig. XIII-3 b).

Paper Bag Puppets

4. To use the puppet, insert forefinger in neck (Fig. XIII-3 6).

5. Cut slits in bag at shoulders for "arms." The operator's thumb and middle finger make the arm action. Paste cardboard hands on sides, if desired (Fig. XIII-3 c).

Variation: Use a larger (10-12 lb.) bag, making head of one third of the bag, the rest of the bag as costume, painted or colored with crayons (Fig. XIII-3 c).

Vegetable Puppets

Carrots, potatoes, apples, etc., may suggest faces and bodies of people or animals. With the aid of paint, paper, thumbtacks, yarn, rope, and a bandana or handkerchief, the vegetables will become puppets. These are not good for long-term use, as the vegetable or fruit dries out and the features change.


1. Choose an interesting vegetable or fruit with possibilities for nose, ears, facial expression, etc. (Figs. XIII-3 d and e).

2. With a jackknife, hollow a space big enough for the forefinger to fit in.

3. Paint additional features, add hair, etc. Sometimes another vegetable or seed pod or nut can be added for a grotesque nose (Fig. XIII-3 e). Eye and mouth can be cut, jack-o-lantern style. Little cones and berries can be the eyes and ears.

4. Fasten kerchief or handkerchief to finger with elastic band, for costumes (Fig. XIII-3 d).

Modeled heads for puppets may be made from clay or from papier-mache. See Chapter IV (Ceramics) on Ceramics, and Chapter XX (Map Making) for making papier-mache.

Sock Puppets

Stuff grass into the toes of a sock, to the instep. Tie string around at instep, leaving space for forefinger. Make features with washable paint, scraps of cloth, berries, bits of wood. Make hair and clothes as above.

Sock Puppets

To make animal puppets, use the foot of the sock, and make ears, tongue, and mane from red flannel and rope. (Figs. XIII-3 f and g)

Finger Puppets

Little faces may be drawn on the finger, or made of gummed paper and stuck to the finger, with handkerchief or scrap of cloth as the costume. This is fun for informal play for little campers on rainy days or in bed in the infirmary (Figs. XIII-3 h and i).

Shadow Puppets

These are flat silhouettes cut from thin cardboard (file folders or shirt cardboards). They are attached to sticks for handles (Fig. XIII-3 j) and are used against a sheet screen with light coming from the back, so the puppet casts a shadow on the screen (Fig. XIII-4 c).

It is necessary to exaggerate details to give puppets character. Make body front view, with hands, arms, and legs side view, or make all in profile (Fig. XIII-3 j).

Colored cellophane paper may be inserted in the figures, to make colored shadows. Paper fasteners at shoulders and hips will make the puppets mobile; threads tied to the arms and legs may be worked by one camper, while another works the stick handle.

Such simple puppets as are described here will be good starting points, and as campers gain in skill, they may progress to other types.

Puppet Stages

A frame for showing puppets of all kinds may be made by lashing or nailing notched sticks in desired size (Fig. XIII-4). Feet fastened across the bottom will help the frame stand on a bench or table, or the frame may be made with legs that stick in the ground, holding the frame at the right height for the campers operating the puppets to sit behind the curtain (Fig. XIII-4 a and b).

For shadow puppets, a screen is thumbtacked across a frame (Fig. XIII-4 c). The frame should be high enough for campers to sit on floor or ground, and lights should be arranged so that the shadows of the campers do not show on the screen.

Scenery may be thumbtacked to bottom and sides of screen frame, for permanent scenery. For changes of scene, large slides of silhouettes may be tacked in place. Birds may be hung from a thread on end of stick, and waved about for "flight." Curtains at the sides may be of blankets or other dark materials. A curtain at the top of the screen helps give the feeling of a stage, with puppets as the players.


A very simple method of illustrating stories and acting out plays is to use the flannelgraph idea. The characters and scenery pieces are cut out and decorated as desired, and a small piece of outing flannel or similar material or sandpaper is pasted on the back. A blanket, piece of felt, or piece of cotton flannel is stretched on the wall or on an easel (it is best to have bottom edge at a slight angle, so flannel figures will stay in place). The figures are just pressed against the blanket or other background and will stay in place, or may be moved at will.

This is a good device to use for nature study and similar activities. The National Audubon Society has suggestions for a project on conservation that would be a good starting point for this type of illustration.

Animal Heads And Masks

Heads for animals may be made from paper bags large enough to fit over the head of camper (Fig. XIII-6). Cut along two folds for half the length of the bag. The front part will go under the chin. Decorate top and sides as desired. Pin or paste on eyes, ears, hair, mane, etc., or paint features. Cover the rest of the body with appropriate costumes.

Heads for people may be made in the same manner. Masks may be made from clay or papier-mache (see Chaps. IV and XX).