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Toilet Paper Tube Puppets

Toilet Paper Tube Puppets with sled prop
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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 puppet 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
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • 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.

Cut out the farmer's tube cover , hat and ears

The Farmer puppet includes a tube cover with head and overalls and cutouts of a hat and ears. The ear cutouts are optional.

Cut out the grandfather's tube cover, hat brim and ears

The Grandfather puppet includes a tube cover with head, hat and shirt and cutouts of the hat brim and ears. The cutouts are optional.

Cut out the son's tube cover, hair and ears

The Son puppet includes a tube cover with head and clothing and cutouts of hair and ears. The ear cutouts are optional.

Cut out the daughter's tube cover and hair

The Daughter puppet includes a tube cover with head and clothing and a hair cutout.

Cut out the grandmother's tube cover and clothing accessories

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.

Cut out the bed tube cover and legs

The Bed prop includes a tube cover and bed legs.

Cut out the sled tube cover and runners

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.

Glue the farmer's tube cover, hat and ears

For the Farmer puppet, wrap the hat around the top of the tube and glue.

Glue the grandfather's tube cover, hat brim and ears

For the Grandfather puppet, wrap the hat brim around the tube and glue. Fake fur can be glued on the beard.

Glue the son's tube cover, hair and ears

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.

Glue the daughter's tube cover and hair

For the Daughter puppet, glue the hair to the top of the tube.

Glue the grandmother's tube cover and accessories

For the 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.

Glue thesled runners and bed legs

For the Sled and 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 are complete!
Toilet Paper Tube Puppets

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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 - Grandfather's Advice

Puppet Play: A folktale from Latvia is presented in the play, Grandfather's Advice, that  features the puppets in this project.

Operate puppet with two fingers

Tip: Place two or three fingers inside puppet. If you use two fingers, they will look like legs on some puppets.

Sled puppet prop

Tip: Add a string to the sled to use as a pull.

Dragon finger puppet

Tip: The dragon puppet has cutouts for a ridge tail, two front legs, and two back legs. Glue them to white cardstock and cut out. Color the back of the ridge tail. Glue the legs to the locations marked with x's. Run a line of glue down the dragons back and set the ridge tail in place. Hold until it sets.

Cut away the tube where mouth is marked, and cut a finger hole in bottom as marked. Cut flames form red or orange paper and glue inside the mouth. To operate the puppet, place your index finger in the finger hole and support the puppet with the thumb.

Tube puppets with Latvian designs

Tip: In Latvia, traditional clothing features intricate woven or embroidered designs. Make the patterns with Latvian Designs for an authentic look.

Son and daughter puppets

Tip: Present the play using either the son or the daughter, or maybe both.

Three crackers with different color tops

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Three colors of binoculars

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Napkin Rings

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