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Paper Bag Rod Puppet

                How many colors in your eyes?

         An introduction to constructing a puppet                   

                and creating a character



                                     COME TO LIFE                                

This puppet project is very focused. It provides a way of thinking about designing and building puppets, and it introduces ways to think about developing a character through careful construction. Think about  creating a character by using observation and tactile reference to your face or another person’s face for building the face, its features, expression, and personality. Each step requires observation, reflection and reference to reality so that the puppets begin to take on a personality. What is observed can be exaggerated and reshaped as long as the starting point is observation. For example, ask yourself  if eyes are on the top, middle, or bottom of the face. Then measure where the eyes are on your face  and you will discover that the eyes are: at the top? in the middle or on the bottom?

    From this starting point ask, “How many colors are there in your eyes?” Look around at people’s eyes, how many colors do you see. There are three colors, plus a sparkle. The colors and shapes do not have to be realistic, but there must be a minimum of three and the shape can be a design interpretation of anger, fear, joy etc. The pupil in the center is what gives the puppet vision and it let’s the audience know that the puppet can see. This type of observation and thinking is continued for all parts of the face and hair. The nose is 3-D and our mouths have 2 lips and it dark inside the mouth. Look carefully at faces.

This is a simple rod puppet and does not have arms or legs; however, the face is a good starting point for developing a personality and a personal voice.

Puppets are inanimate objects that are made to come to life by a person, a puppeteer. No construction of a puppet is complete without dramatic action.

This project can be done with people of all ages from the very young to grandparents. It can be a foundation and point of reference for more intricate construction and character development.

Materials - for each participant

1 lunch bag-   For an extra zing- try a party shop for Colored lunch bags / for GIANTS use grocery bag

1 paper towel tube or 1” x 12-14” (fax tubes,

shade rods, etc.)-- for sturdy center rod- for child to hold onto.

5- 6 pieces of newspaper- to stuff into the bag to make the head

Colored construction paper. ( include, white black and red), for features- sticky back paper is easy to use.

1 piece of colored tissue paper- variety of colors ( cut large sheet in 1/2 – (1/2 for the body and 1/2 for the hair)

A Large paper grocery bag to make a quickie theater

**Fluorescent paper for features---- The paper glows in Black Light. It add another dimension to the head.

For all to share: scissors, Elmer’s type Glue & glue brushes, glue containers ( cat food cans or paper cups) masking tape, magic markers. Glue brushes are an important tool for this project.


Stuff crinkled single sheets of newspaper (4-5 pages) – into a lunch bag until it is  about 1/3 full of paper. Add the paper towel tube or other rod and continue filling the bag. Pack the bag tightly.

Tape the bag to the tube with masking tape. Make sure the tube is secure and the head does not wobble.

Cut or tear pieces of construction paper ( or

fluorescent paper) to make features.

EYES are in the center of the head - make them large-

(If children are little or have trouble cutting,

Prepare a variety of cut pieces or self stick pieces for them to choose from. 

Arrange the pieces on the table and look at them before sticking them to the head.This is important!   

When they look just right, Glue them on.

LOOK at one another. There are at least 3 colors in our eyes, and our features are 3-D. Try to make them stick out.  The nose is 3-D, eye lashes come out from the face, and eyebrows have different shapes and are very expressive. Everyone has 2 lips, teeth, tongue and it is dark inside the mouth etc

Art reflects life- Observe, remember, and create.

Hair: Use 1/2 piece of colored tissue. Fold in 1/2 and fold 1/2 again. Holding the folded end and cut from the bottom making 1/4-1/2” strips; do not cut through the fold. Cut or tear at the fold to give 2 large pieces with strips. Put glue on the bag where you want hair and attach 1 section of strips. Then add glue and attach the other section. You may cut these sections into smaller sections, trade pieces with one another to get a multi colored effect etc. - Look at people’s hair to see how it grows. You will discover there are layers of hair.

Body: Use the other 1/2 piece of colored tissues-

Select ANY color. Put a circle of glue around the top of the neck tube below the chin area. Scrunch (gather) the tissue and glue around the neck to hide the tube, thus making a simple costume. Try NOT to overlap the tissue so that the costume is full and there is a little opening at the back for the puppeteer’s hand to hold onto the tube.


If you are working with a group, when everyone is finished: Sing: “Put your puppet in the air, in the air... Let your puppet do a dance... Let your puppet jump up high etc.                

Experiment with movements-

The song will focus attention and get everyone ready to participate, and the song can provide an impetus for making them MOVE.

NOW make your puppet move and talk. What is its name? Where does he/she live? What does it LIKE? What does it NOT LIKE? What does it like to eat? What games does it like to play etc? Does it have something it really cares about, a person, an issue, a problem, a joyful event? Share it!

Add a conflict- ne puppet likes something (ice cream), the other dislikes it; it’s one puppet’s birthday and the other puppet did not get invited to the party; one puppet talks about something, (ex the weather,) the other changes the subject, etc.  Think of situations that have conflict- then work on conflict resolution.

Make a large grocery bag theater- Cut a large square in the bag (cut the side with words). Create a favorite PLACE on the other side- use magic markers, collage, crayons, paint etc. Hold the bag with the hole side facing you. Pop the puppet up through the hole and over the top so that your arm is hidden by the bag.  Ask the puppets to talk about their favorite place, talk to each other, talk to you, tell a story.

THEATERS: Many different types of puppet theaters/stages can be used to act out stories. Put a table cloth on a table and go behind the table.pop the puppets up. Add scenery on the table and you can video this show. This is easy!



These puppets can be used to tell many different kinds of stories. If you have story in mind before you start, plan out the story, scene by scene. List the characters in the story, select who will play each character, and construct the puppets to represent the characters in the story. When they are completed, make a careful outline of the play.  Discuss what each character should say and “improvise” the scene.  Be sure to add lots of movement, actions. When everyone is happy with the dialogue and movements, act it out again. It is amazing, but everyone will remember his/her part. Later the script can be written down. The plays are more sincere, louder and more dynamic if the puppeteers develop the script through improisation based on a carefully planned Production Chart or Story board. Put away all papers and scripts when performing and perform what you know from your heart.