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Animated Stick Puppets

Animated stick puppets based on folktale from the Algonquin
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What you will make:

In this project, you will go one step beyond the Simple Stick Puppets by adding movement. Make a fish wiggle as it swims, a monkey climb a tree, and have puppet people move their arms! It just takes a hole punch and paper fasteners to add moving joints to these puppets. The play in this project, The Defeat of Great Glooskap, is based on an Algonquin Native American folktale.

This is the second in a series of puppet projects that includes plays based on folktales from cultures around the world and from previous eras.

Related craft: For more stick puppets, see Simple Stick Puppets and Clip Art or Photo Puppets.

Here's what you need:
  • Cardstock (white)
  • Bamboo skewers or other thin sticks
  • Paper fasteners
  • Scissors
  • Small hole punch
  • Tape
  • Optional: Crayons, markers or colored pencils, white glue, colored paper, and yarn

This project is rated EASY to do.

How to Make Animated Stick Puppets

Read all of the steps before starting.
Step 1: Choose a Pattern and Print It

Choose the puppets that you want to make. You can choose to make animated stick puppets for the play, The Defeat of Great Glooskap, a monkey for a play of your own, or a fish puppet to go with the Stick Puppets. You can also choose to make a shadow puppet version of the animated fish puppet—see Shadow Stick Puppet Patterns for more shadow puppet patterns.

For the most creativity, use the blank puppet patterns. You can make the face, hair and clothes look anyway you like. Use the hair cutouts or create your own hair style to glue to the puppet's head. For child-size puppets, print the blank man and woman patterns at 60% to 80%.

Download the pattern and print it on white cardstock. If you don't have cardstock, print the pattern on white paper and glue it to cardboard; cereal box cardboard is fine.

Glooskap puppet
Printable pattern for Glooskap animated stick puppets
Wife puppet
Printable pattern for Native American woman animated stick puppets
Wasis puppet
Printable pattern for baby animated stick puppet
Fish puppet
Printable pattern for fish animated stick puppet
Blank man puppet
Printable pattern for blank man animated stick puppet
Blank woman puppet
Printable pattern for blank woman animated stick puppet
Monkey puppet
Printable pattern for monkey animated stick shadow
Fish shadow puppet
Printable pattern for animated fish shadow stick 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

If you chose to print a black and white pattern, color the puppets any way you like with crayons, markers or colored pencils.

You might also decorate the puppets with bits of colored paper or yarn for the hair, but you may want to wait to decorate each puppet until after you have cut it out.

Step 3: Cut Cut out the puppet pieces

Cut out each puppet piece, taking care to cut neatly and accurately. Each puppet has two or three pieces.

If you printed on paper, make a stronger puppet by gluing the cutout to cardboard. First do a rough cut, and then glue the puppet to a piece of cardboard. After the glue dries, finish cutting the puppet pieces.

Step 4: Fasten Pieces Together Fasten puppet pieces together

Use paper fasteners to join the puppet pieces. With the tip of the scissors or a small hole punch, make holes where the X or O is marked on each piece. Put the parts together—aligning the holes you just made. Push the paper fastener from front to back and spread the fastener ends on the back side.

For the fish, be sure that the body is in front of both the head and tail. For the people and monkey, be sure that the arms are behind the bodies. You may want to tape the tips of the fasteners to keep them from moving.

Step 5: Attach Sticks Tape sticks to back of puppet

Put the puppets face side-down on the table. Tape skewers to the back of each puppet, tip up. For the fish, tape one near the nose and the other near the tail. For the people and monkey, tape one skewer to a leg and tape a skewer just above the elbow of each moveable arm.

Fasten arms to body and tape sticks to back of monkey puppet

The sticks can also be attached with a drop of white craft glue, but it will need to dry for a few hours or overnight.

Bamboo skewers are available in most grocery stores. Pick some that are 10 or more inches (25 cm) long. Any other flat or narrow stick will also work.

Step 6: Put on a Show Make a stage and put on a show

To put on a show, you will also need a stage. Turn a card table on its side, or put two chairs together and hang a towel or sheet from a stick across the tops.

You could also use a large box as a stage. Turn the box open side-down, and cut away the center of one side.

Perform the play, The Defeat of Great Glooskap, or make up a story of you own.

Think of what your puppets will do. Where does your play take place? Is your play funny or dramatic? Rehearse your play a few times and then perform it for family and friends.

Shadow puppets: Animated stick puppets can also be used as shadow puppets. Hang a piece of tissue paper or a thin sheet as a drape. Put a bright light behind the drape with the puppets between the light and drape. The audience will see shadows moving across the stage. Be sure the light doesn't shine on the puppeteers—we don't want to see their shadows.

That's it! Your puppets are done!
Animated stick puppets based on folktale from the Algonquin

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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

Puppet Play: A folktale from Algonquin Native Americans is presented in the play, The Defeat of Great Glooskap, accompanying these puppets.

Two Wasis animated stick puppet - crying and happy

Tip: Make two Wasis puppets — one happy and one crying.

Wasis animated stick puppets with alternate crying face.

Tip: Or, make the happy Wasis and cut out a crying face. Stick it over the happy face when needed.

Fish animated stick puppet

Tip: To wiggle the tail, hold the face stick still while moving the tail stick, or vice versa.

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