Art Project: Dollar Store Marionette

The marionette puppet we made in puppet class has received so much attention, I thought I'd share how to make it so more kids can make this big, silly, and inexpensive puppet. 

I've been co-teaching a puppet class to 30 early elementary students the last couple months. The weeks before the kids had made small puppets and then a large collaborative puppet so we wanted to balance it out with a big puppet that they each could take home. We also wanted to keep the skills diversified. The kids had done projects that included a lot of cutting, drawing, gluing, and decorating. So for this week we wanted the kids to do a project that involved more weaving and knotting.  

I designed this project using normal supplies I had in the studio/home and the rest was dollar store finds. It ended up costing me about $3 per puppet! If you were to do this with the kids in your care I'm sure you could replace some of the items with other things you have around the house (e.g. use scrap fabric for the body instead of crepe paper or braided rope instead of the garland etc...)


  • scissors
  • wire hanger
  • pliers
  • wire basket
  • crepe paper
  • sticky back fun foam
  • pipe cleaners
  • garland
  • yarn
  • paper bowls
  • take out boxes

Before introducing the project to kids:

  • remove basket handle 
  • bend the hanger
  • Using scissors: Puncture 2 little holes in the center of the paper bowls.
  • Add yarn to the 2 bowls, the handle of the take out container, and through the center of the bottom of the basket. Be sure to leave a long tail when you tie them so you can attach the garland.
  • These four elements will be what attaches to the four points of the handle (coat hanger).

Now the fun part!

  • The kids decorated the body (basket) by layering crepe paper and twisting it with pipe cleaners.
  • Then they decorated the face (take out box) with different shapes they cut out of the sticky back foam.
  • Some chose to add shapes to the feet (bowls).

Put it all together:

  • Help the kids as needed in tying the end of the yarn from the head, body and each foot to the handle (coat hanger).
  • We used one eight foot garland per puppet with the leg garlands being longer than the neck.
  • The short garland goes from the head to a spot along the edge of the body (basket) and the two feet garlands attach into the holes where the basket handle once was.
  • We held up the puppet by the handle (coat hanger) so the kids could attach the garland to the feet at the best length.

A great thing about puppets is they entertain the kids for a long time after they're done designing, since they then can make stories and have dance parties with their puppet.

And there you go! That's how we made our big silly marionette puppets!