There are all kinds of puppets: marionettes on strings, hand puppets that fit like a glove, and tiny finger puppets. They can be made with so many things: paper plates, index cards, straws and yarn, and even old socks! Puppets have been around for ages throughout the world. Read on to learn more about the world of puppets and how to make your own.
Puppets in History
Puppets have been crowd pleasers since at least the time of the ancient Greeks. Later on, an old medieval manuscript shows children playing with stringed puppets-- knights in armor with swords, facing off just like Rock'em Sock'em Robots.
A European puppet show would usually be set up at a fair or market square, anywhere that people would naturally get together. The scripts might be written just to be a good, funny story, or they might have a more serious intent to poke fun at the people in charge of the community. Both ordinary people and kings' advisors enjoyed watching puppet shows.
Puppet Masters Around the World
The Japanese Bunraku puppets have such lifelike movements that people forget that the puppeteers are in plain sight. The Vietnamese tradition specializes in water puppets. The puppeteers stand chest deep in the water and move their puppets just above the surface. They act out scenes from everyday life. The islands of Indonesia are famous for their shadow puppets (wayang kulit) whose stories of gods and heroes have a strong spiritual connection to the community.
For hundreds of years, Punch and Judy shows have entertained crowds in Britain and America. Today, the creators of the Sesame Street and Winnie-the-Pooh television shows let their puppets capture the imaginations of a whole new generation of kids and parents.
Puppets Helping People
Sometimes it's easier to learn something new and maybe a little bit scary from a puppet show. Kids on the Block, a puppet theatre that has shows all across the country, goes to schools to teach children how to make friends with kids who are different.
Puppet making is a lot of fun. The books and Web sites listed below can help you get started. Almost anyone is old enough to make a puppet, and kids who are too little to make one will surely think it's wonderful to watch a puppet perform. Once you have made some puppets, try putting on a show for your friends and family!
In the Library and on the Web
Check out our Puppets for You list for books, a video, and Web sites about puppets and how to make them.