Introduction: Paper Stick Puppets

About: During the COVID-19 crisis, all of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship's religious services moved into an online-only format. I generally organize Sunday school activities for the children of the Fellowship …

Today's story was told with lots of paper puppets, using both live puppetry and stop motion animation. Here you can learn how to make your own stick puppet, just like Puppet Jill!

You can make your puppet with moving arms if you happen to have brass fasteners lying around (I did), but if you don't, you can just glue arms on your puppet and control it with the bottom stick only. I also happened to have bamboo skewers, but you could also use disposable chopsticks or sticks you go find from outside.


-construction paper

-sticks (bamboo skewers, chopsticks, or tree-sticks)





Step 1: Make Your Puppet's Body.

We talked a lot about water in today's story, so I decided to make a mermaid. Your puppet can look like anything, though. A person, a monster, a fairy, an alien...have fun with it!

I drew an outline of a mermaid with pencil. Don't include arms (or whatever upper appendages your puppet has). You'll add those later.

Once you are pleased with the shape, use a marker (or crayons or colored pencils) to decorate the body. I added scales and fin details to the mermaid's tale.

Finally, cut out the body.

Step 2: Add a Layer to the Top of the Puppet.

A mermaid needs a top non-fish half, so trace around the upper body shape on a different color of paper. Cut it out and glue the pieces together.

(Even if you're not making a mermaid, you'll still need at least two layers of paper on the top half of your puppet to strengthen it. Maybe your puppet is wearing a shirt. Maybe it's got long hair. Maybe it has spikes. If you want your puppet to be all one color, you could even just trace on the same color paper and glue it to the back.)

Step 3: Decorate Your Puppet.

Add other features or decorate it with markers.

I cut out and glued on some hair, and I drew a face and some clothes.

Step 4: Glue on a Stick.

Flip your puppet over and glue on one of your sticks. Glue sticks won't work for this; you'll want some school or tacky glue.

Let it dry completely. While it's drying, you can make your arms!

Step 5: If You Don't Have Brass Fasteners, Glue on Arms.

To make arms (or other appendages) that stay still, fold paper in half and sketch an arm shape. Cut through both layers of paper to make two arms.

Glue your arms on your puppet. Let the glue dry. Yay! You're done! Do a puppet show!

If you do have brass fasteners, you can keep going.

Step 6: If You Do Have a Brass Fastener, Make Arms.

Fold your paper in half, sketch arm shapes, and cut them out. You'll want them to be at least 3/4 of an inch wide to accommodate the brass fastener.

Step 7: Cut Sticks for the Arms.

Take two of your bamboo skewers (or other sticks), lay them against your arms, and make a mark about half an inch from the upper end of each arm. Use your scissors to score around the mark. You can get a grown-up or older sibling to help you. Carefully snap the stick apart at the score.

Step 8: Glue the Sticks to the Arms.

Glue your cut sticks to the arms. Then, take two more sticks (if you found tree sticks, you'll want these sticks to be about the same length as the center one), and glue them to the hands (or claws, paws, whatever) perpendicular to the arm sticks.

Let the glue dry completely.

Step 9: Attach the Arms With Brass Fasteners.

Stick a brass fastener through each of your puppet's shoulders.

Flip the puppet over and carefully poke the pointy end through the ends of your puppet's arms. Bend down the brass fasteners.

Step 10: Have a Puppet Show!

What kind of puppet did you make? I bet it's rad!