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close this bookCreative Training - A User's Guide (IIRR, 1998, 226 pages)
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close this folderBasic facilitation skills
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close this folderTraining needs assessment
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close this folderEnergizers
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close this folderMood setting exercises
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close this folderLectures
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close this folderDrawing and chalk talk
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Easy puppets

Puppets are small models that can be used to illustrate a story or situation. Their use can help people discuss sensitive issues more easily.


Finger puppets

This is an extension of the single finger puppet - used on first fingers to entertain children. They can be (used to animate a story while it is being read. Either the reader or a helper can control the puppets.


· cloth - flour sacks are cheapest
· scissors
· sewing needles and pins
· thread
· marker pens


Whenever using scissors and needles, supervise children.

Suggested approach

I. Trace around both hands - fingers apart, allowing extra for sewing seams and turning inside out.

Tracing can be done on a piece of craft paper, to make a pattern, or directly onto material. Material should be double with the 'right sides' together


· You can make different hats from paper to place on puppets' head to change the character, e.g., nurse, rice planter, etc.


· Use a rolled up tube of paper with a face to slip over your finger instead of gloves.


2. Pin the two pieces of material together.

3. Sew round the edges leaving an opening big enough for the hand to get into the glove easily.

4. When they are sewn together, turn the glove inside out and ease it onto your hand to check the fitting.

5. Make a list of the characters you wish to have. These may be related to a particular story or you may want general characters for more varied use, e.g., farmer, mother, nurse, child, fly, dog, etc.

6. Decide which finger will be most suitable for each character. If you have two gloves it will be better to put those characters who will interact most on opposite hands e.g., mother - child, nurse - child.

7. Draw the faces on the tip of each finger with a marker pen. You may like to practise on paper first.

You now have a pair of puppet gloves to animate storytelling. Practise actions of each character while reading the story before you present them to your audience. It is essential that the reader is skilled in reading and able to use a different voice for each character. At the appearance of a character in the story, the finger with that face should be shown. When there is a dialogue they should appear to be talking to each other. It would be easier with two people - one for the story and one for the puppets but it is possible for the storyteller alone to manipulate the puppets.



· Portable and fun
· Bring a story to life


A model for a full glove with faces on each finger was made in a Child to Child Workshop, for training Community Health Workers in Santol, La Union, Philippines. The health worker wished to make puppets to tell a story about health to children but decided she would be unable to manipulate them, thus losing the effect. She decided to draw around her hand to make a pattern for a glove. The idea was to have the faces of the characters in the story on the fingers. After discussion it was agreed that two gloves would be needed to portray all the characters.


Puppets are small which may not be good for a large audience. But at the workshop where it was devised, the children were intrigued by the idea. They watched and wanted to try it for themselves. It needs some practice to present the right characters at the right part of the story.

Other easy puppets

Plant or vegetable puppets


Be careful in using the cutting tools.

Plant puppets are easy to make by cutting or drawing faces on yams, cassava, pumpkin, carrots, etc. Use bamboo sticks or skewers as handles.


Stick puppets

Children can easily make stick puppets. Older children can teach the younger ones how to make faces with different expressions. If a puppet needs two expressions, put two cardboard drawings back to back on a stick. During the show, turn the puppet to show the face you want.


Sock puppet

Sock puppets make use of socks to depict a character in a presentation.



1. Put the sock on your hand with your fingers where the toes should be and your thumb where the heel should be.


2. Bend your hand slightly and mark where the eyes and nose should go.

3. Cut a forked tongue from felt and stick and sew into position.

4. Decorate the body by sticking brightly colored bits of felt and buttons, sequins, etc.

Paper bag puppets

Paper bag puppets are made of paper bags inserted in the hands.

Open and close your hand to make it eat and speak.

To make a bigger puppet, attach a cardboard face to the bag.



· Easily made
· Easily used
· Materials are readily available.


The bag puppets are useful in teaching about care of teeth, but con also be used to indicate speech in any character. The stick puppets were used very successfully by children in Ajoya, Mexico where they enacted a story about Diarrhea and the Special Drink (Rehydration Solution)

Source: Werner, D. and B. Bower. Helping Health Workers Learn.