Toilet Paper Tube Puppets
What you will make:
In this project, use empty toilet paper tubes to make finger puppets,
then put on a play that features them. The puppet play in this project,
Grandfather's Advice, is based on a folktale from Latvia. This project includes printable
patterns for the play's characters, props and ideas for staging the play.
Once you make the puppets in this project, use your creativity to make puppets of your own
design. A tube can be a puppet's head or half head and half body. The
tube can be used upright or horizontally to make a variety of puppet
shapes—animals, people, or vehicles. Cover the tube with decorated
paper, or paint it, and add cut-outs.
This craft is part of the series of
making projects that
include puppet plays based on folktales from cultures around the world and back in time.
A Latvian folktale is the
basis for a play,
Grandfather's Advice, using puppets in this project.
Here's what you need:
- White computer paper
- Empty toilet paper tubes
- Crayons, colored pencils or markers
- Optional: Paint and paintbrush, fake fur, yarn, ribbon, lace and cloth.
This project is rated EASY to do.
How to Make Toilet Paper Tube Finger 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
all three puppets for the play included in this project, or create a play of your own
centered around the puppets you make. The blank tube covers may be
used to draw your own versions of the farmer, grandfather,
grandmother, daughter and son
puppets, or to design and color puppet characters created from your imagination.
For an authentic Latvian look, the last three patterns feature
Latvian textile designs on the puppet clothing
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 (optional)
Each puppet pattern includes colored and black & white versions of the tube cover and puppet cutouts.
For the most creativity, use the black & white patterns and color the puppet cover and cutouts any
way you like—use your imagination. Tip: Instead of using a tube cover, you may paint
the toilet paper tube. In that case, you will only need the cutouts.
- Step 3: Cut
Cut the tube cover and cutouts for the puppet.
The Farmer puppet includes a tube cover with head and
overalls and cutouts of a hat and ears. The ear cutouts are optional.
The Grandfather puppet includes
a tube cover with head, hat and shirt and cutouts of the hat brim and ears. The cutouts are optional.
The Son puppet includes a tube cover with head
and clothing and cutouts of hair and ears. The ear cutouts are optional.
The Daughter puppet includes a tube cover with head and
clothing and a hair cutout.
The Grandmother puppet includes
a tube cover with head, dress and apron, along with cutouts of hat,
apron ties and ears. The ear and apron tie cutouts are optional.
The Bed prop includes a tube cover and bed legs.
The Sled prop includes a tube cover
and sled runner cutouts.
- Step 4: Glue
Wrap the cover around the toilet paper tube to see how it fits.
Toilet paper tubes in the U.S. are generally 4½ inches long
and 5 to 5½ inches around. Trim the paper if needed, or cut
strips of paper for any uncovered sections.
Glue the cover on the tube. Glue on the cut outs. The ear cutouts are optional; to use them,
fold the glue tab, then glue in place over the printed ears on the tube cover.
See the sidebar for how to construct the dragon puppet.
For the Farmer puppet, wrap the hat around the top of the tube and glue.
For the Grandfather puppet, wrap the hat brim around the tube and glue.
Fake fur can be glued on the beard.
For the Son puppet,
glue the hair to the top of the tube. Instead of using the
cutout, the hair could be made of yarn or fake fur.
Grandmother puppet, glue the hat to the top of the tube
and wrap the hat band under it around the tube. Glue the
ears and apron ties in place.
Bed props, glue runners to the sled and glue the legs on the bed. Glue
where X's are marked.
Cut away the top of the sled and bed as marked. Attach a
pull rope to the sled top.
- 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, put two or three fingers into the bottom of the tube and fold the others over.
For the sled and bed props, optionally cut the circle in the bottom
for a finger hole.
Use the play included in the project,
Grandfather's Advice, or come up with your own ideas.
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! Your TP tube puppets
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