Quick and Simple Puppets: Donkey and Personalized Puppet

Whether for a party or indoor winter fun for kids, creating a sock or 'rod' style puppet is a breeze with templates from Noel MacNeal's 10-Minute Puppets.

Children rod-style puppets and a donkey sock puppet
Images courtesy of Workman Publishing

The cold weather has officially settled on southeast Michigan. But families can battle the encroaching cabin fever with a little “Punch” – and Judy. That’s right: We’re talking puppets!

With an arsenal of “pairless” socks, scrap paper and household odds and ends (read: no need to venture out to the craft store), you and the kids can create an entire cast of critters in a jiffy – as cleverly demonstrated by Noel MacNeal in 10-Minute Puppets (Workman Publishing).

This guy’s the real deal: He’s the voice and puppeteer behind Bear of Disney’s Bear in the Big Blue House. And he’s dad to a young son (so he knows a thing or two about crafting up fun on a tight timeline).

Here, we share his directions (and cool templates to help complete your project) from two of his wacky and wonderful creations: Hee-Haw the Donkey and “A Puppet Called You.”

Hee-Haw the Donkey

The only thing more fun than whipping up this silly fella is giving him a goofy voice. For variety, shorten the ears for a horse – or twist together some pipe cleaners to craft a unicorn horn.

Materials

  • 1 sheet of 8 1/2-by-11-inch felt (or scrap pieces; any color)
  • Ruler
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • 1 sock (“patches” on the toe and heel are a nice touch)
  • Needle and thread (or medium-sized safety pins)
  • Crayons
  • Eyes and tongue (draw them freestyle)
  • Strip of fake fur (any color)
  • Glue (preferably hot glue gun)
  • Your hand

Instructions

  1. Fold the felt in half. Measure and draw a triangle (3-by-4-by-3 inches). Cut along the outline through both layers to make two triangles.
  2. Pull the sock over your hand, with your thumb in the heel and four fingers in the toe area. With the marker, put dots where the ears and fur for the mane will go.
  3. Pinch one triangle along its 3-inch side and sew it onto one side of the sock at the ear dot. Alternative: Use a few safety pins to attach the ear (from the inside, so they don’t show as prominently). Repeat for the other ear.
  4. Sew, safety-pin or hot-glue the fur onto the back of the sock – between the two spots you marked in step two.
  5. Freestyle draw the eyes and tongue on plain paper. Color ’em in with crayons and cut out.
  6. Glue the eyes onto the top of the sock. Glue the tongue on the bottom of the heel (i.e., inside the donkey’s mouth). Let dry if using regular glue.
  7. Pull the sock over your hand ‘n git hee-hawin’.

A Puppet Called You

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Your little ham may already be the center of attention at your house – but now, you can make his or her stardom official with this super-easy personalized puppet.

Materials

  • Crayons or paint
  • Boy or girl body (freestyle draw on white paper)
  • Glue stick
  • Lightweight cardboard (scrap)
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • 1 drinking straw or chopstick
  • Photograph/photo printing paper

Instructions

  1. Draw a boy or girl body template on plain white paper and color it in.
  2. Glue the body sheet to the cardboard and cut out around the body.
  3. Lay the body facedown and place the straw or chopstick vertically on the back, about halfway up. Tape it down.
  4. Print out a photo for your character (child, mom, dad, etc.) on photo paper. You may need to resize it a tad, first, so it’s roughly the same size as the blank head on the template.
  5. Cut out just the face of your character from the photo.
  6. Spread some glue over the head area of the puppet body template; then, press the photo (face-up, of course!) onto the glue.
  7. Let it dry; then, hold up your puppet and start the story!

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