Art With Grandma 7/23/2020 – Paper Bag Puppets

I’ve been looking for projects that are low cost or use materials already on hand and that are low in terms of Mommy prep time. My daughter and son-in-law are both working full time from home right now and are temporarily without childcare, so any project that requires elaborate preparation on their part is a no-go. I remember making these puppets as a child, so it’s an idea that has been around for a looooong time. One of the things I like about projects involving puppets is that they can branch out into performance art. Be sure and see “Suggested Follow-Up Activity” at the bottom of the page.

Needed Materials:

  • Paper Bags (lunch bag size)
  • Construction Paper in assorted colors
  • Googly eyes if desired
  • Large Pom-Poms if desired
  • Glue sticks and Craft Glue
  • Felt Tipped Markers or Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Any other desired embellishments like stickers, glitter, gems, etc.

Instructions:

  • Draw features on the face using felt tipped markers or crayons. You are actually drawing on the bottom of the bag. If you hold the bag with the bottom of it upmost and facing you, the top of the bag will be the top of the head and the lower edge of the bottom will be the puppet’s upper lip. I know that sounds horribly confusing — the photo above does a better job of making this clear.When it’s done, the child puts their hand in the bag and hooks their fingers over the edge of that flap to make the mouth open and close.
  • Glue on the Pom-Pom ears if you are using them. Ears cut from construction paper in the shape of your choice also work well. Craft glue is more effective to attach Pom-Poms than glue sticks, and you need to leave them in place for quite some time to dry. A hot glue gun works even better (and faster) if you want to assist your child with this.
  • Use a glue stick to attach the arms inserted into the folds on the sides of the bag. They work best glued to the front side of the fold.
  • Pull the bottom of the bag up enough to work in the fold under the edge and glue on the two mouth liner pieces.
  • Glue on the tongue and roll it around a pencil to make it curl.

Extras:

We read the book Frida by Summer Morrison. It’s a board book, so suitable for very young children. The illustrations are charming and each page has the words in English and Spanish. This is not a biography of Frida Kahlo, it’s more a very simple imagining of a day in the life of the artist as a child.

We sang “One Elephant Went Out to Play.” If you haven’t heard it before, here’s a link to a version on youtube.com.

Results:

Finn thought the puppets were the funniest thing, and loved the large pom-poms, which he called Fluffy Floms. He made four puppets in the time it took me to make one : ) I thought the book might be a little simplistic for a 4-year-old, but he actually paid more attention to it than the more complex ones I have been trying to use. I think for the disjointed kind of reading we do while working on projects, simple is better. I also discovered that if the puppet sings the song, instead of me, Finn is much more engaged — and I am less embarrassed by my complete lack of singing ability!

Suggested Follow-Up Activity:

Make more than one puppet so they can have conversations (Now that I write that, the image in my mind is a little creepy!) You can put on an impromptu puppet show acting out a favorite story or perhaps re-enacting one of your child’s best days ever.

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