Kid's Activity: Make Your Own Marionette

by Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder

Puppetry has long been a form of entertainment, dating back to the Greek theater in 5 B.C. It has also been used throughout the years to convey history, to educate, and to expand one's imagination. There are many different types of puppets -- sock puppets, bag puppets, stick puppets... and of course the most famous two styles -- "hand puppets" and "marionettes".

Hand puppets are rather self explanatory. The puppeteer wears the puppet on his/her hand and makes them come to life.

Marionettes operate differently. For these, the puppeteer manipulates a series of sticks and strings from above to operate the figure. Jim Henson's "Muppets," well known for their Sesame Street appearances, are examples of marionettes.

Check to see when the next live puppet show is in your area! Then once you are home again try making your very own marionette below!

Materials Needed:

  • 3 paper or Styrofoam cups
  • Strong cord or string
  • Straight stick or 12-inch ruler
  • Popsicle sticks or twigs
  • Colored markers


Cut 4 pieces of string; each a length of approximately 12-inches. Break twigs or popsicle stick into six 1-inch sections. For each piece of string, tie one end to the twig. You should now have 4 strings with a piece of stick or twig on one end as in Figure 1. Set aside the two remaining twigs.

Designate one cup to be the *head* of your puppet. In this cup, punch or cut a hole on each side and one hole in the bottom, large enough to feed cord through. Take one string and feed through the hole from within the cup so that the tied piece with the stick rests against the inside as shown in Figure 2. This will prevent the string from slipping through.

The other two cups will form the "feet" of your puppet. Punch a small hole in the bottom of each. Feed string through, again from the inside as shown in Figure 3.

Next, take the strings from the "head" piece and tie onto your control stick (or ruler) as shown in Figure 4.

Almost done! Now take the strings from the "feet" and feed through the hole you made in the bottom of the "head" cup. You will want to pull these strings all the way through until you are able to tie on a remaining twig pieces. Then pull string back down from the bottom until the twigs rest snugly against the bottom of the cup. These strings are now forming the legs. With markers, draw on your puppet's face and decorate your figure as desired. It should appear finished as in Figure 5.

Hold on to your control stick (ruler) and you are ready to have your marionette puppet dance and play!

Julie Snyder is a mom of six, interested in kids, pregnancy, birth, people and lives in the outlying Seattle area. Melissa Jaramillo is mom to many. She's passionate about building, encouraging, and strengthening families on this adventure known as parenthood!

Copyright © Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder. Permission to republish granted to, LLC.