Nothing can be said with certainty about the place and time when puppetry was born. However, it is believed that it originated in India, from where it spread to other south east Asian countries, like China and Japan. It has been used to preach morals, convey messages, and to simply tell stories. Although it has lost out to the more technologically advanced forms of entertainment, it is still used as a popular means in the education and entertainment of children. Not only is it easy to make one, but puppet making is an art and craft activity that is enjoyed by kids and grown ups alike.
Puppets and Children
Although they no longer enjoy the same popularity as they did in the olden times, puppets are largely used for education purposes in younger kids. Different from the more popular forms of entertainment and also more life-like, they are used as characters that interact with children. Children seem to respond better and communicate easily with them than with real people. Puppet shows are widely used to narrate stories, to teach concepts and morals to kids. They are easy to make too. Puppet making tends to improve motor skills, creativity, and imagination of the kids. It occupies an important place in kids' craft.
Making Puppets for Kids
Cut the fingers off an old glove. Sew buttons on the cut fingers for eyes and nose. One can also use pom poms for the nose. Use colorful strings and yarns to make hair. These can also be used to make the tail in case the puppet is an animal character. Cut out the mouth and ears from felt. You could use other material as well to decorate your puppet. In the land of puppets the only limit to creativity is one's imagination.
Cut out patterns and shapes for the dress and shoes from felt or fabric scraps. For the face and hands, construction paper or a soft cardboard can be used. Facial features can either be drawn or made from decorative material. Stick the different parts of the puppet to a popsicle stick or any rounded wooden stick. It is advisable to let the parts dry up completely and then work on the details of the face or for further decoration.
The Dragon Puppet
To make a dragon one, take an empty egg carton. Stick the attached ends with glue or tape to form a hinge joint. This would form the dragon jaws. On the outer surfaces of each jaw, attach a piece of ribbon so that the thumb slips under the lower jaw and the rest of the fingers fit tightly over the upper jaw. Cut a sleeve from an old sweater or shirt. Pull it over the closed jaws. Make slits on the sides in the fabric to allow the jaws to open and shut. Stick the fabric on to the jaws of the dragon. Cut two semi-circular shapes in the upper jaw to form the nostrils. Cut out the elevated parts of some other egg carton and glue them to form the eyes. Color them red to give the effect of fearsome eyes. Cover the inner surface of the jaw (mouth) with a pink color cloth or paper. Use white bottle caps to make teeth of the dragon. Cut jagged felt fringe along the neck of your dragon. Use your imagination to make your dragon more real. The same procedure can be followed to make a crocodile. However, in that case the jaw has to be longer.
Hand or Glove Puppet
These are specially attractive as they can be made to 'talk' by moving their jaws. There are a large number of ideas for sock puppets that can be used to make hand puppets. To make one, use a clean, old sock for the base. Ensure that the sock is large enough to let free movement of the fingers of the user, as they make the mouth of the puppet open and close. It is best to make the user wear the sock and draw the mouth, nose, and eyes or at least mark these parts on the sock. As construction paper sticks easily to the material of the sock, use it to cut out the eyes, nose, and ears. For hair, use strings or yarn. To make the mouth, cut it out according to the size of the puppet from a piece of cardboard. The most common shape for this is an elongated ellipse. Fold it midway. Ensure that the width is not larger than that of the sock. Hold the piece of cardboard in your hand between the thumb and the other fingers such that the fold faces the curved palm. Take your hand (with the cardboard piece) into the sock such that the heel side slides along the upper surface of the hand. Mark ½" from the edge of the open end on both sides of the cardboard on the sock. Draw a line to join the points. Cut out the toe end along this line. Fold the extra ½" in over the edges of the cardboard piece and stick the fabric firmly to the cardboard edge with glue. You can refer to books or surf the internet for more ideas for sock puppets.
There are many plus points about puppet making for children. They are easy and quick to make and can be made from scrap. So, go ahead and give wings to your imagination. Use your creativity and enjoy when your child giggles out of joy as you make your puppet dance and sing for him.