St. Augustine’s: 3 Making “Real” Puppets

IMG_1491IMG_1492IMG_1495Art Room Hour and a half:

In response to the children’s pleasure in the paper puppets at the last visit and also to their wanting to make “real puppets – like yours” we embarked on a more involved puppet making process. I brought a paper mache puppet, Mary Mary to meet and chat with them first. She checked in with them about the previous sessions and asked what they had been up to in between times. But her primary objective was to provide an example of something made by a similar process they were beginning, so we discussed the materials her head was made of and talked a bit about the process.

We got some newspapers and tore masking tape strips and lined them up beside us ready for easy grabbing when needed.

I showed how they might ball or fold the newspaper into a small head shape of their choosing (about the size of a tennis ball) and how to make them firm using the masking tape. Each child then worked with newspaper to “find” a head shape they liked for their puppet.

We then discussed the shape of noses. I showed how they might make or cut out and “try on” various kinds of noses. They prepared more masking tape and made a nose for their puppet.

Then I showed them how the placement of different kinds of eyes can affect the character of a puppet. When they had chosen eyes from a selection, trying on various ones first till they found what they liked, they then marked where they wanted them to go on the puppet and the teacher glue-gunned them into position .

We talked about mouths, how different shapes show different emotions. How Mary Mary’s mouth is a little bit open as if she can speak and laugh. I showed them a couple of options re: mouth making – adding upper and lower lips to make an opening, using egg carton pieces or cut polyballs, building lips from folded newspaper or drawing a mouth on the face which the adults could cut into with the knife for them. Most of them chose the latter option and they then covered these open mouths with masking tape to make them stronger. A couple of them were interested in making teeth for the puppets too so we cut these from plastic milk bottles and taped them in place.

I then showed them how to cut a cardboard roll to make a neck, and how to cut into it to attach it to the head and to stand it on a cardboard base – this will later become the shoulders of the puppet. Each child wrote their name on the puppet and then it was time for lunch.

Classroom half hour:

As we hadn’t had much time with them before, I wanted to return to their paper puppets from the last session. Before we gave them out we worked together to collect some questions we might ask someone we were meeting for the first time, which we could then put to the puppets to begin a process of character creation. I used a large sheet of A2 to collect the questions they suggested. I then took out the Mary Mary puppet for them to try out some of the questions, with the children taking turns to ask, and her (actually that was me through her!) improvising answers. Then we took out their puppets and Mary Mary asked them questions from their list. The teacher also took out a wolf hand puppet and joined in the process which everyone enjoyed. They then could choose to take their paper puppets home if they wanted – not everyone did.

Materials for Art Room session:

7 Scissors


7 rolls of Masking tape (strong stick type)

Egg cartons and other nosy stuff

Small polyballs, cut in half (good for noses and eyes)

Shiny beads, marbles, sequins, buttons and other eye like stuff


PVA and containers for it

7 Glue Brushes

18 Thin bamboo or green garden rods approx 1.5 ft / 90 cms

Aprons for the children

Materials for Class Room session:

Some A2 sheets to collect questions on.

A thick marker

Niamh brought

Mary Mary table top papier mache puppet


Egg cartons

boxes to stand the puppets in when drying

Cardboard pieces and rolls

Gaffa / masking for stage building

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