Friday, November 9, 2007

More about Puppets: Finding a Puppet

A picture from several years ago--some of our grandchildren with spoon puppets they'd just made, using wooden spoons from the dollar store, yarn and scarves from yard sales and thrift shops. These are easy puppets to make with large groups of kids, and cost very little.

Once you start looking, you will find puppets in all sorts of places. Some of my favorites were found in such unlikely places as airport stores, a doll store, online, in yard sales and at a book sale.

Try looking in the following places for you puppet:

1. New puppets: toy stores, bookstores, mail order catalogs, and craft fairs. There are many excellent commercially made puppets that make great puppet partners. Book character puppets are often sold in bookstores, but you may need copyright permission to use them in a paid performance. Most school and personal use of these puppets is acceptable, however.

2. Used: yard sales, thrift shops, and consignment shops are great places to find puppets. Most puppets can be washed in a washing machine on delicate cycle. Surface dirt can be wiped away with a window cleaning solution or cleaning wipe. I often use Windex or other window cleaners to clean my puppets--works very well on those that can't go in the washer.

3. Online: new and used puppets are easily available online, but there are special considerations. You will not be able to try out the puppet, and its size might not be what you expect. A used puppet bought online might not be in the condition you anticipate. Still, some of my best puppets were bought very cheaply on Ebay, so this is a possible source if you are willing to take a chance.

4. Stuffed animals: many stuffed animals can be modified for use as puppets by removing the interior stuffing. Check to be sure:


A stuffed animalrecycled into a rabbit, in a performance in Idaho a few years ago.


*arms are not sewn shut so you can put fingers into them for manipulation

*that there will be ample room for your hand

*that the stuffed animal is constructed sturdily enough for your purposes.


5. Make them! There are many books on puppet making, from simple stick puppets to finger, glove, marionette and more. Many puppets can be made from easily available materials at home, such as old gloves, socks, wooden spoons, etc. Check your local library or online for resources.

More spoon puppets. These were made with a group of about 50 children at an outdoor event. We used a makeshift stage, made from a cardboard project board. Simple and fun.

Be sure your puppet has eyes that are big enough to be seen, because like humans, puppets communicates with their eyes. Eyes can be changed with either hot-glued wiggle eyes, or modified with peel-and-stick felt pieces cut to the shape, size and expression you want.

Resources:

Van Schuyver, Jan. Storytelling Made Easy with Puppets. Oryx Press, 1993.

Champline, Connie, and Nancy Renfro. Storytelling with Puppets. ALA, 1997.

Wallace, Mary. I Can Make Puppets. Greey De Pencier Books, 1994.

Beutter, Barbara McDonald. Simple Puppets from Everyday Materials. Sterling Press, 1996.

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