“Puppets for Little People,” Ensign, Oct. 1980, 54–55
Puppets are fun! And they come in all sizes and shapes, fit all types of moods and situations, and can be easily made with materials available in the home.
Studies have shown that children can expand their vocabularies, broaden their abilities to deal with problems, and increase their verbal abilities through the use of puppets.
For example, a very shy or quiet child may find a puppet a less frightening way to communicate. And children who may be experiencing frustration because of a new baby brother or sister, or who are having problems with friends or family members, or who just need to express how they feel through another, “safer” personality can use puppets. Not only are puppets able to help the normal child, but they have been used in many remedial programs for handicapped children and in a variety of child therapy situations.
Puppets offer parents and teachers an opportunity to correct and teach children through the personality of the puppet—perhaps a “super-clean” puppet who checks on jobs assigned to children, or, to introduce new ideas, a “bookworm” puppet who has just tasted a good book, or a nature-loving puppet who has just discovered a new insect or plant.
And a family-home-evening puppet could help with lessons on Monday and remind family members during the week of gospel principles and personal commitments.
Paper bag puppets. Decorate the bottom of an ordinary paper bag as the upper face, and work the side fold as a mouth. These are common in the classroom. Any size of paper bag may be used, depending on the character desired.
Finger puppets. Draw a face on a small piece of paper or cardboard and attach it with a rubber band, a spot of glue, or a doubled piece of cellophane tape to the tip of the finger.
Hand puppets. These are worked with three fingers of the hand, with one finger placed in the head of the puppet and one in each arm. A simple cloth body is made from a pattern, following the basic outline of the three fingers. The body can be hand or machine sewn. It should be long enough to cover the hand to the wrist, or even longer if desired. Heads for hand puppets can be made from paper-maché, styrofoam balls, or stuffed cloth or paper. Eyes, hair, or other facial features can be attached to give the puppet character.
Sock puppets. Constructed from men’s or children’s stockings, these are perhaps the easiest and most versatile to use. The hand is put in the sock, with the toe tucked in to suggest a mouth. The thumb operates the lower jaw, and the fingers operate the upper face, where all varieties of eyes, ears, nose, and so forth are sewn or drawn on. The upper part of the sock may be stuffed with cloth or paper to create a larger head and more opportunities for innovation.
If materials are assembled beforehand and supervision is available, children can make these puppets in thirty minutes to an hour, hand-sewing the seams and creating their own puppet personalities with scraps of cloth, paper, plastic, or felt.
Many children’s stories, including fairy tales, biblical stories, and even original scripts to fit specific needs, are readily adaptable to puppet dramatization and require a minimum of puppets and props. Teachers will see children’s interest and attention improve considerably when puppets are used to illustrate lessons. They are also successful in presenting programs in church, children’s hospitals, or homes for the elderly.—Harold R. Oaks, Provo, Utah
1. Put sock on hand, heel over knuckles.
2. Tuck toe of sock into space between fingers and thumb.
3. “Tack” folded-in toe with needle and thread.
4. Add eyes, nose, ears, eyebrows as desired.