DIY Wooden Spoon Puppets for Kids

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 7:57pm -- Jessica Baudin-...

Each month my girls excitedly wait for their new Chirp and Chickadee Magazines. Did you get those as a kid? I remember getting mine in the mail and devouring the articles on science, nature, memorizing the goofy jokes and ogling over the monthly craft projects (and begging my mom to help me complete it). My girls go through the same giddiness when their magazines arrive each month.

This month’s craft project was Wooden Spoon Puppets. It was the first thing the girls showed me, followed by “When can we make some of our own Mama?”

What You Need:

  • Wooden Spoons (ours were 3/$1 at the dollar store)
  • Paint
  • Glue (we used hot glue but white craft glue would work as well)
  • Markers (optional)
  • Variety of items for decorating (googly eyes, pipe cleaners, felt, pom poms, etc)

Making your Wooden Puppets

The first thing the girls and I had to decide was what kind of creature our puppets would be. Malia wanted a lion, Bria a cat, and I decided to tackle a butterfly. Once we knew what we were going to create we each painted our wooden spoons a base color.

We weren’t having a very patient day in our house so to speed up the paint drying time I pulled out my blow dryer. This cuts drying time down to mere seconds. My blow dryer has a cool setting, which works best. If you only have a hot setting just be sure to hold the blow dryer about 8-10 inches away from the paint so it doesn’t bubble from the heat.

With our spoons painted and ready we planed our puppet designs. This involved deciding what materials we wanted to use and what order would be best to assemble them. Planning time is valuable when crafting. While I provide the girls daily opportunities to explore various art materials and processes without limitations I also want to teach them the value in creating a thoughtful product. 

Conservation is another value I want to pass along to my girls so it is important to think about the resources we are using to avoid waste. Bria is especially interested in learning about the environment. Like most kids her age she is enthusiastic about the importance of the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle). When we plan we waste less and this is a good thing!

I sat back and let the girls decide how they could create different parts of their animal puppets. Some ideas were from the puppet photos in the magazine but many of the ideas were their own. I was impressed with their specific use of a variety of different materials to create texture and contrast (both words Bria is using more and more while she creates and speaks about her art and craft endeavors).

Cutting, pasting, wrapping, and twisting various materials provided the girls with more opportunities to work on their developing fine motor skills. I have been particularly impressed with Malia’s scissor skill development! I give most of the credit to her fabulous pre-kindergarten program, Southside Mother’s Day Out. They ensure art materials are always available for the children to explore. Malia has been bringing me home wonderful pieces of art created by cutting shapes and pasting them together. Exploration is such a powerful tool in early childhood skills development!

I mentioned above we used hot glue to make our puppets. Hot glue not only holds more securely than white craft glue, but is also dries almost instantly. I had never thought about using hot glue with younger children until I read this blog post by Teacher Tom last year.

Hot glue is not something I would recommend using with all children and it is something that needs to be supervised. However, with children who are able to follow directions, have some impulse control (i.e. don’t touch the hot glue!) and are refining their fine motor skill using a hot glue gun can be very empowering.  I enjoyed watching the girls as they very carefully hot glued different materials together to create their puppets. It was wonderful seeing their attention to detail and engagement in the activity.

After drawing some faces with markers our creations were complete!

One hint if you create a butterfly: sandwich a piece of cardstock between two pieces of felt so your wings will stand up against the weight of decorations.

One reason I love this project is that the final product is a creative play toy! The girls have greatly enjoyed putting on puppet shows together. I have also found Malia playing imaginatively with the puppets by herself this week. Dramatic play provides children with a wonderful outlet to tell stories, and fosters expressive communication. As a parent I also find it funny when I hear the puppets having conversations similar to those in our own household.

Malia, playing with the puppets.

Butterfly: I’m the mommy and I say you have to clean up your toys.

Lion: I didn’t make the mess, kitty did!

Cat: No Lion made the room messy Mama Butterfly, not me!

Butterfly: I don’t care who made the mess it is your job to clean it up! That’s responsibility!

Can you guess what has been an ongoing topic in our home lately?