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Three-Finger Puppets -bighorn sheep, rabbit, lion
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Three-Finger Puppets

What you will make:

Make finger puppets whose legs are moved with two fingers and the head with another finger. The craft project includes printable patterns for three animal puppets: lion, rabbit and bighorn sheep. You can make up stories and put on plays with these puppets!

This craft project is part of a series of puppet-making projects that includes plays based on folktales and fables from cultures around the world and from previous times. An ancient Greek fable is the basis for a play, The Lion and the Rabbit, using puppets in this project.

Related craft: For more finger puppets, see the Elephant Finger Puppets, Paper Cone Finger Puppets and Toilet Paper Tube Puppets projects, and for other puppets with plays based on folktales, see Puppets Around the World.

Here's what you need:
  • White computer paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Optional: Crayons, markers or colored pencils, tape, googly eyes

This project is rated EASY to do.

How to Make Three-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. Each pattern includes the puppet in two colors. Download the pattern and print it on white paper. For the puppet play, The Lion and the Rabbit, make the Lion and Rabbit puppets.

Lion puppets
Printable pattern for Three-Finger lion puppet
Rabbit puppets
Printable pattern for Three-Finger rabbit puppet
Bighorn sheep puppets
Printable pattern for Three-Finger bighorn sheep puppet

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 and Decorate (optional)

If you printed the plain patterns, draw eyes, ears, nose and toes, then color the puppets any colors you like. Lions are usually tan or yellow. Rabbits come in many colors—white, gray, brown, black. Bighorn sheep are white, gray, or black. Some are white with a black face. You might color the lion and the rabbit with short lines that look like fur. Color the sheep with curls that look like wool. Put tufts of fur in the ears.

Tip: Instead of drawing eyes, you can glue on googly eyes.

Tip: Color both sides of the horns for the bighorn sheep.

Step 3: Cut

Cut out each puppet part on the outside black line. Each puppet has a head, two legs and an additional feature. For the lion, also cut out a mane. For a rabbit, cut out two ears. For the bighorn sheep, cut out two horns.

For the lion and bighorn sheep, snip the outer half of each ear away from the head.

Cut out the puppets

Tip: It's easier to cut out the puppet parts if you first cut the pattern into pieces with simple straight cuts, then cut out each part on its black outline.

Step 4: Glue Legs Glue leg coverings into tubes

Each leg will be formed into a tube. One leg will slide onto your index finger. The other goes on your ring finger. The legs need to fit your fingers. Wrap the leg around your finger to see how much overlap is needed, then glue.

Put glue on the back of the leg along one of the short sides. Form a tube and press along the glued edge.

Tip: You may find it easier to use tape. Wrap the leg around your finger and tape it while it is on your finger.

Step 5: Fold Head Fold puppet head

There are four lines that run from the nose to the top of the head. Make a mountain fold on each of these lines.

Fold the nose down on each puppet. On the lion and the bighorn sheep, fold the ears up.

Tip: You can use tape in place of the glue.

Step 6: Glue Head Glue puppet head

Put glue along the back of one of the folded edges. Form the head shape and press the two bottom edges together.

Step 7: Finish Head

Rabbit: Fold the nose and teeth down. Fold the glue tab up on each ear and cut each tab in half on the center line. Glue the tab halves together—one on top of the other. Glue each ear to the head.

Glue mane, ears or horns on head

Bighorn sheep: Fold the nose down and the ears up. Cut the spiral on each horn. Put glue on the base of each horn. Glue the horns inside the head below the ears.

Lion: Fold the nose down and the ears up. Cut the sides of the glue tab on the mane. Fold the glue tab up and put glue on it. Glue it inside the head with the tab.

Tip: You can give the horns and mane more shape by curling them over a pencil with your fingers.

Tip: Your puppets can have four legs. Just make leg coverings for your thumb and little finger. Now you can have your puppets walk on four legs.

Step 8: Put Puppet on Fingers

Bring your puppet to life by putting the head on your middle finger. Put one leg on your index finger, and put the other leg on your ring finger. Now make your puppet walk by moving your fingers.

Shows puppets operated with three-fingers

Tip: If the head won't stay on your finger, stuff some tissue around your finger.

Tip: If you want to hide your hand, put on a glove or drape a cloth over your hand. Try to use colors that match the puppet.

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! You are ready to put on a play!
Three-Finger Puppets -bighorn sheep, rabbit, lion

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Before you start
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

Puppet play - TheLion and the Rabbit

Puppet Play: An Aesop fable from ancient Greece is the basis for the play, The Lion and the Rabbit, performed with puppets from this project.

Lion finger puppets in two colors

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Tip: Each puppet pattern has puppets in two different colors—make one or both.

Two bighorn sheep finger puppets

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Tip: Use colored pencils or markers to add details to your puppets. Brown lines were drawn on these horns to make them more like horns in nature. (Did you notice that the sheep's hooves are cut to points?)

Blue and green rabbit finger puppets

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Tip: You can make the puppets any way you like—fanciful colors or glued-on googly eyes. For these colorful puppets, the puppet pattern's PDF file was opened in Inkscape (a free drawing program) and the colors were changed.

Elephant finger puppets in two colors

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Tip: For three-finger elephant puppets made in a similar way, checkout the Elephant Finger Puppets craft project.

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