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Paper Bag Hand Puppets

Paper Bag Puppets for Clever Gretel play
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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 puppet 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 crafts: 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. Make a couple of opera singer hand puppets from Tenor and Diva Paper Bag Puppets. 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 Puppets Around the World craft project index.

Here's what you need:
  • White computer paper
  • Lunch-size paper bags
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • 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 Clever Gretel, the Gretel, Mayor and Banker puppets are needed, as are the Roasting Chicken props. See the play for more details.

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
Printable pattern forGretel puppet cutouts
Mayor puppet cutouts
Printable pattern for Mayor puppet cutouts
Banker puppet cutouts
Printable pattern for Banker puppet cutouts
Roasting Chicken Props
Printable pattern for 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.

Color and decoratepaper bag hand puppets 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 puppets

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 Gretel cutouts to paper bag

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 mouth.

Glue Mayor cutouts to paper bag

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.

Glue Banker cutouts to paper bag

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!
Paper Bag Puppets for Clever Gretel play

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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: A Brothers Grimm folktale from Germany is presented in the play, Clever Gretel, accompanying these puppets.

Paper Bag puppet wth open mouth

Tip: Some paper bag puppets are designed to open their mouths.

Paper bag puppet with eyes opened

Tip: And others are designed to open and close their eyes.

Roasted chicken props

Tip: Tape or glue the roasted chicken props to bamboo skewers.

Cat and owl hand puppets

Tip: See the Cat and Owl Paper Bag Puppets craft project for how to make animal puppets using paper bags.

Tenor and Diva Paper Bag Puppets

Tip: See the Tenor and Diva Paper Bag Puppets craft project for printable cutouts to make some funny opera singer puppets.

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