Paper Bag Hand Puppets
What you will make:
Start with a paper bag and add a few decorations to make an easy hand
puppet. Make puppets in this project that either have a mouth that opens and
closes, or eyes that open and close. How the bag's flap and the flap's crease
are decorated determine the type of puppet. The play in this project,
Clever Gretel, is
based on a Brothers Grimm folktale from Germany.
This is the third in a series of
making projects that
include plays based on folktales from cultures around the world and back in time.
A German folktale from the Brothers Grimm is the
basis for a play,
Clever Gretel, using puppets in this project.
Related craft: For more puppet fun, see the
Clip-Art Bag Puppets craft project. This time make
paper bag puppets using clip art! A quick, easy and fun activity for
families and groups. Or see the
Cat and Owl Paper
Bag Puppets craft project for how to make animal puppets
using paper bags.
For more puppet craft projects, many with plays, see
Around the World craft project index.
Here's what you need:
- White computer paper
- Lunch-size paper bags
- Crayons, colored pencils or markers
- Optional: Colored paper, yarn and fake fur.
This project is rated EASY to do.
How to Make Paper Bag Hand Puppets
Read all of the steps before starting.
- Step 1: Choose a Pattern and Print it
Choose the puppets that you want to make. Make the puppets for the
play included in this project, or create a play of your own
centered around the puppets you choose. For the play
the Gretel, Mayor and Banker puppets are needed, as are the
Roasting Chicken props. See the
These patterns are for cutouts to decorate the paper bags for each character.
There is also one pattern for a play prop—roasting chickens. Make the props
following the Stick Puppets
instructions. The cutouts are sized for use with lunch-size
paper bags. Lunch-size bags are about
5¼" by 3¼" by 10½" in size. You can scale the patterns down to
fit smaller bags. In the Adobe
Reader Print window, select Page Scaling: Tile
all pages, then enter a percentage in the Tile Scale: box.
Gretel puppet cutouts
Mayor puppet cutouts
Banker puppet cutouts
Roasting Chicken Props
Patterns are Adobe PDF files. The
Adobe Reader is available for free.
All of Aunt Annie's project patterns are designed to be printed on
standard letter-size paper (8.5"x11" or A4). When printing from Adobe
Reader, you may need to select Auto-Rotate and Center or
Choose paper source by PDF page size to ensure the best fit.
Step 2: Color Cutouts (optional)
If you printed a black & white pattern, color the puppet cutouts
any colors you like. Each pattern includes two sets of eyes—complete eyes
and separate parts of eyes. Pick the type you prefer and color them.
Colored paper cutouts are another choice. To make them, cut out the
patterns, trace around them on colored paper, and cut.
Instead of using cutouts, you may color directly on the paper bag. You
can also use a mix of cutouts and coloring: for example, use cutout eyes and a drawn nose.
- Step 3: Cut
Cut out the puppet cutouts.
- The Gretel puppet cutouts include eyes, lips, mouth,
hair, hat, collar and apron. You may also want
to cut a dress from a piece of red paper. It needs to be the width of the bag and about 6" long. Another option
for the dress is to color a red rectangle on the bag.
- The Mayor puppet cutouts include eyes, mouth, hair,
eyebrows, eyelashes, moustache, nose and a knife prop. Cut the
hair and eyelashes into a fringe as marked on one edge. Wrap around
a pencil to curl.
- The Banker puppet cutouts include eyes, mouth, eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, nose, hat, collar and bow tie.
You may also want to cut a shirt from a piece of white or blue paper. It needs to be the width of the bag and
about 3" long. Cut out the knife prop and glue it on cardstock.
Tip: The beard has a hole for the mouth. Start cutting the hole by pinching a
small fold in the center and cutting across it. This will make an opening for your scissors.
- The Roasting
Chicken Props need to be cut out and taped to bamboo skewers.
- Step 4: Glue
Glue the cutouts to the bag as illustrated for each puppet. Pay
careful attention to what is glued inside the crease
and under the flap.
Gretel's mouth opens and closes as you move your hand. For the
open mouth, glue the mouth cutout under the flap, aligning the
bottom edge to the crease where the flap falls. For the closed
mouth, glue the upper lip on the flap and the lower lip just below
The Mayor's eyes open and close as you move your hand. Glue the
eyes on the crease where the bottom of the flap falls. For the nose
to have a 3D look, fold it in half and fold the glue tabs in. Apply glue on tabs.
The Banker's eyes open and close as you move your hand. Glue the
eyes on the crease where the bottom of the flap falls. Make a shirt on the bag
before gluing on the collar and bow tie. Either color a rectangle on the bag, or glue on a
white or colored paper rectangle.
- Step 5: Finish
Add any additional decorations you might like to complete the puppet. Yarn or fake fur can be added for texture.
Additional cutouts for clothing or tools could also be added.
To operate a puppet, slip your hand into the bag and put four fingers in the flap. Open and close
your hand to move the flap.
Think of what your puppets will do. Where does your play take place?
Write down what the puppets will say and figure out how they will
move. Will more than two puppets be on stage at once? Do you need a
friend to help? Rehearse your play a few times, and then perform it for family and friends.
That's it! The puppets are done! Now put on a play!
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