Grade: Elementary
Subject: Art

#3699. Inexpensive marrionette puppet

Art, level: Elementary
Posted Mon May 15 09:04:06 PDT 2006 by Hal Pederson (
The Winchendon School, Winchendon, MA, USA
Materials Required: Listed in test
Activity Time: 2 to 4 periods
Concepts Taught: Follow Directions/Art

The following are the text pages, however, there are critical diagrams that cannot be pasted here. You can request the diagrams by emailing me at: Put "Puppet diagram" in the subject box.

Puppets, Cheap'& Easy: An Easy-to-make Bird Puppet
By Hal Pederson

(1) 3 inch Styrofoam ball
(2) 1.5 inch Styrofoam balls
(3) Pieces of yarn - 6 to 8 inches long.
(4) Pieces of monofilament fishing line - 2 to 3 ft. long. (Depending on the size of the operator.)
(2) Twist-off bottle caps - for bottom of feet.
(2) Tongue depressors or equivalent pieces of wood.
(2) Thumbtacks or wiggly eyes - for eyes.
(1) Top of a Bic pen - for beak, or part of Popsicle stick, etc.
(1) Feather for tail and wings.
A sharp pencil, pen, piece of coat hanger, knitting needle - to make holes in Styrofoam balls. Elmer's glue.

Assembly on next page.


Note: You can use your imagination and use recycled materials for the body, head, feet, feathers, eyes, etc.

1. Take the large ball and poke holes about 0.5 inches deep, with a pen point or knitting needle or coat hanger, around the center as shown in Fig. 1. (Marked A, B, C, D.)
2. Take one of the small balls and poke two holes as above, also shown in Fig. 1.
3. Take the remaining small ball and cut it exactly in half. (A steak knife used like a saw works well.)
4. Knot three pieces of yarn, about six inches long, at each end.
5. Cut four pieces of fishing line about 2.5 to 3 feet long.
6. Make a very small slit in each end of the pieces of wood, as shown in Fig. 2.
7. Glue one piece of wood about half of the way up the other piece of wood, as shown in Fig. 2. (Set aside to let glue dry.)
7. Take one piece of knotted yarn (from Step 4) and insert one end in the small whole ball. Put the other end in hole D on the large ball.
8. Use the knitting needle or piece of coat hanger to push in ends. Squeeze a little glue into these holes. 9. Knot a piece of scrap yarn onto one end of each piece of fishing line, then knot the fishing line around the yarn and cut off excess. (This is just to create a kind of lump at the end, so that once it is glued into the ball, it won't slip out.) Stuff this end into hole B of large ball.
10. Repeat above for small ball.
11. You should have two pieces of knotted yarn left. (From step 4.) Knot a piece of fishing line onto the yarn knot, as they are going in the same hole. Stuff this end into one of the half balls (the small ball you cut in half). Squeeze a little glue into the hole. Repeat for the other half.
12. Take the other end of the yarn for these two pieces (yarn only) and stuff one into hole A and the other into hole C.
13. You should know have something that looks like Fig. 3. (If not, check steps.)
14. Insert and tie fishing line, numbers 1 through 4, into corresponding slits in wooden pieces, adjusting length of each line as you go. After you have tied them exactly where you want them, put a little glue on each place to keep from slipping.
15. Squeeze glue into bottle caps and press onto bottom of feet. (The flat side of the half-balls.) Careful - do it gently, so as not to break Styrofoam.
This is the basic puppet. Add eyes, beak, wings, tail, and head feathers for finishing touches, using your imagination. (Poke a little hole where you want to put the feathers, squeeze in a little glue and stick in the feathers.)
It may take some practice to learn to make it walk, dance, eat something from the ground, sit, and walk backwards, but it can do all of those things, maybe more - it's all up to you.
For assembly diagrams, email with "Puppet Diagrams" in subject.