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Puppets Around the World

Fables from around the world

Puppets Around the World

Fables from around the world
Puppets Around the World Under the Big Top

Circus Finger Puppets

Let's go to the circus!
Simple finger puppets with a circus theme
What you will make:

In this project, make four different finger puppets with a circus theme: acrobat, strongman, clown, and elephant. The puppets in this project are very simple—just print, color, cut and glue. They can be made with paper or cardstock.

Each puppet is offered in three sizes suitable for different hand sizes. A convenient finger measure is included on the printable patterns to make it easy to determine the size of puppet that will fit best. The project also includes patterns for things to make to complete your circus—a circus stage, circus ring, and juggling rings. See the circus craft index page for more crafts and digital papers with a circus theme.

Related craft: For more two-finger puppets, see the Two-Finger Puppets project. It features bird puppets for a play based on a fable from the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.

Here's what you need:
  • White computer paper or cardstock
  • Crayons, markers or colored pencils
  • Scissors
  • Tape or glue
  • Optional: Hole punch and colored paper

This project is rated VERY EASY to do.

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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.

How to Make Circus 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. You can choose to make the puppets in three different sizes. Each pattern includes a yellow finger measure. Cut it out and wrap it around the base of the puppeteer's middle finger. Select the puppet size—small, medium, or large—that fits best. Also, the finger holes can be cut larger or smaller to accommodate different finger sizes.

Download the pattern and print it on white paper or cardstock.

Acrobat puppet
small & large
Printable pattern for circus acrobat finger puppet
Elephant puppet
small & large
Printable pattern for circus elephant finger puppet
Clown puppet
small & large
Printable pattern for circus clown finger puppet
Strongman Puppet
small & large
Printable pattern for circus strongman finger puppet
Clown & Acrobat
Printable pattern for circus clown and acrobat finger puppets
Printable pattern for circus strongman and elephant finger puppets
Circus Stage
Printable pattern for circus stage
Circus Accessories
Printable pattern for circus accessories

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)
Color and decorate finger puppets

If you printed the black & white patterns, color the puppets any colors you like. You might add polka dots to the clown's suit or put cuffs on the elephant's legs. Use your imagination to make the puppets uniquely yours.

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

Step 3: Cut Cut out the puppets

Cut out each puppet on the black outline, including the strips for the loops. Cut out finger holes on each puppet. There are two leg holes on each puppet, except for the elephant, which has one trunk hole. Try to cut a very smooth circle. This will be more comfortable for your fingers. You can adjust the size of the hole to be smaller or larger to fit your fingers.

Tip: Start cutting the hole by pinching a small fold in the center and cutting across it. This will make an opening for your scissors. You can also start the hole cut by using a hole punch.

Step 4: Fasten Paper Loops Fasten loops on back of puppet

Place the puppet face side down on your work surface. Gently bend the paper strip(s) into a loop. Use glue or tape to fasten the loops. The elephant has two loops—one on each leg. The other puppets have one loop each to add shape and strength to the puppet's body.

Step 5: Put on a Show Put on a show

To use the acrobat, strongman, and clown puppets, slip your index and middle fingers through the leg holes. Now make your puppet walk by moving your fingers.

To use the elephant puppet, slip your middle finger through the trunk hole and put your index and ring fingers into the leg loops. Walk the elephant by moving the index and ring fingers. Wave the trunk by moving the middle finger.

Tip: Wear a glove on your hand to give the effect of stockings. You may need to enlarge the holes.

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.

Step 6: Make a Circus Ring and More (optional) Make accessories for the circus

You might want to make a circus ring and some accessories to go with it. It all depends upon your play. It's easy to cut strips of paper to make juggling rings and a circus ring, but you can also use Aunt Annie's circus ring and accessories patterns, offered in color and black & white. Or you might use items around the house—for example, use milk jug rings, a small ball, or decorate a small box to use as a stand.

The accessories patterns (color and black & white) include a circus ring, juggling rings, leg coverings, a trunk covering and patterns for a skirt for the acrobat. Cut out each item on the black outline.

Circus ring: Glue or tape the strips end-to-end to form one long strip, then join the ends together to form a ring.

Juggling rings: Glue the ends together to form rings.

Form tubes to make leggings and trunk coverings

Leggings and trunk cover: Each rectangle will be formed into a tube to make leggings or a trunk covering. The tubes for the leggings need to fit the puppeteer's index and middle fingers. The trunk covering goes on the middle finger. Cut the rectangle down, as needed, to fit each finger.

Wrap the rectangle around the finger to see how much overlap is needed, then glue or tape to form a tube.

Glue skirt to acrobat's waist

Acrobat skirt: Trace the skirt pattern onto tissue paper and cut it out. Apply a line of glue along the acrobat's waist. First, attach the top corners of the skirt, leaving the middle loose. Then gather the middle section and press down.

That's it! Now put on a play!
Simple finger puppets with a circus theme

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