The Stick Puppets involved in this project are inspired by Asian puppets like the rod puppets from Indonesia. We have modified the Rod Puppets and presented them in a simpler way so that it could be done by young children in Kindergarten or Primary/Elementary school students.
This project is ideal to learn about other cultures and ancient theatre practices, and it is a lot of fun for the students to create a character.
Puppetry is an ancient art & craft practice in Asian countries. It goes back to thousands of years in China and in India where puppets were used not only to present a play but also for religious purposes like to invocate their gods and ancestors. In modern days Asian puppetry is used to convey ideas on social issues, political issues and to entertain the old and young with wonderful stories.
Link to find out more, this link contains information on puppets from different cultures, and it could be very useful for older students.
What you need:
This puppet project, like others, can be done using recycled materials. The fabrics and needles supply will depend on the age group of the students. Colourful yarns, big buttons, and recycled textiles are ideal. The picture on the left shows a selection of open weave materials. There are bits of old knitted scarves and old jumpers found at the local Op Shop.
For younger children, it is important to provide them with open-weave fabrics such as Hessian/Burlap for the base, and bits of cut-up knitted scarves and jumpers and plastic needles threaded with colourful yarns. This is an ideal way to introduce sewing to young children.
Working in a Kindergarten or Prep Class: In my experience, I sit down in a central place in the classroom and ask the young children to come to me to get their needles threaded with the colour of their choice and to show them how to sew the basic stitches. It is also very nice to invite parents and grandparents to the classroom to help young children to learn how to sew.
Older students like grade 4 to grade 7 students, love to express lots of ideas about their characters. They will spend more time creating the costumes, using a variety of fabrics in different colours and patterns. They love to cut fabrics such as felts, wool fabrics, cushion fabrics and sew with Tapestry needles or Chenille needles # 18.
Head and Rod: I have a separate section for the head and rod. The rod could be a 30 cm ( 12”) wooden ruler or a paint mixer stick that is about the same length. Any flat stick that is about 30 cm (12”) long or longer, and about 1” wide will be fine to use.
The circle used for the head in our project is felt discs that we were lucky to find at a Recycle for teachers and artists centre. Cardboard is a good alternative and the size will depend on the length of the stick. The shorter the stick, the smaller the head. The features, nose, eyes, and mouth could be made of bits of felt glued with white glue. The picture shows the back of the head and the way the cardboard circle has been joint to the stick, using a small strip of paper painted with white glue.
Note: this is a very useful way to join bits, and young children will learn this joint technique very quickly.
Paper Puppets: A good alternative, if there are no fabrics available, is paper. Old discarded paintings are ideal as the paper has been already painted with bright colours. This picture shows a puppet made with paper by a young child, the body is a triangular shape, and the face has been drawn on.
Link to a recycled materials list to send home for parents to contribute with bits and bobs.
To find more projects on textiles and other art and craft technique, visit: