Handwork for the Lively Arts

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Handwork for the Lively Arts includes those projects that are related in some way to one of the lively arts: drama, music, etc.

I/ Environments

Create environments into which the children can physically enter.

Ideas for environments:

A. Child-sized house, or Playhouse

B. Tower of Babel with cardboard boxes

C. Building a set, or making props for a play

II/ Puppets

Puppets may be used in puppet shows, or with less formal puppet play.

A. Stick Puppets

Draw the puppet on stiff paper or light cardboard. Then cut out the puppet. Attach the puppet to a “tongue depressor” (large wood craft stick) using hot melt glue. To see an example of such a puppet, made by a seven-year-old, click here.

B. Paper bag puppets

Three of the completed puppets
Three paper bag puppets: a Tiger, a Lion, and a Little Tree Spirit

This section provides patterns and instructions for making four paper bag puppet characters: a Tiger, a Lion, a Great Tree Spirit, and a Little Tree Spirit. These four characters can be used to act out the Jataka tale of The Little Tree Spirit.

Once you get the basic idea, it’s easy to make up other paper bag puppet characters.


Print out the patterns for the paper bag hand puppets on card stock. Carefully cut along the lines, so the children can trace the outside of the card stock pattern. OR you can help the children draw the puppet pieces freehand.

Tree Spirit puppet patterns (PDF)

Assemble supplies:
glue sticks
black magic markers
paper bags (lunch bag size, 5 x 10 in. folded)
paper or card stock in the following colors:
—pink (for noses and mouths)
—white (for eyes)
—dull green (for Little Tree Spirit)
—bright green (for Great Tree Spirit)
—orange (for Tiger)
—yellow (for Lion’s head)
—brown (for Lion’s mane)

How to make the puppets

Let’s start by seeing how the Tiger puppet is made.

Step One:

Trace the head pattern onto a piece of orange paper, and cut out the head (it’s also fine to draw the head shape freehand on the paper, using the pattern as a guide to size and shape).

Then glue the head onto what is usually the bottom of the paper bag.

Gluing on the head of the puppet
Putting glue on the back of the tiger’s head

Step Two:

Using the patterns, trace and cut out two eyes from white paper (you can also trace around the cap to a glue stick). Trace and cut out one nose from pink paper. Glue the eyes and nose onto the head shape.

Use the black magic marker to draw pupils in the eyes, stripes on the head, and whiskers as shown:

Drawing whiskers on the puppet
Drawing the tiger’s stripes

Step Three:

Trace and cut out the mouth shape from pink paper. Fold it about one third of the way across the diameter (about one inch from the edge). Then glue the mouth in the flap formed by the bottom of the paper bag where it’s folded over. You want a little bit of the pink mouth to show below the head of the puppet.

Gluing the mouth into the puppet
Gluing in the mouth

Here’s a photo of the completed puppet, with a hand inside:

The Tiger puppet with a hand inside of it
The tiger puppet, on someone’s hand

The rest of the puppets are made in much the same way.

For the Lion: Use the same head pattern as for the Tiger, but cut the head out of yellow paper. Cut a mane out of brown paper and glue the head on the mane. Glue the head with its mane onto the paper bag. Glue on the eyes and draw in the pupils. Glue on the nose. Glue in the mouth.

For the Little Tree Spirit: Use the tree pattern and cut the tree out of green paper. Glue the tree shape onto the paper bag. Glue on the eyes and draw in the pupils. Glue in the mouth.

For the Great Tree Spirit: Use the mane pattern but cut the shape out of green paper. Glue the resulting large tree shape onto the paper bag. Glue on the eyes and draw in the pupils. Glue in the mouth.

Here are the four completed puppets:

The completed puppets

You can use the same eye and mouth patterns to make other puppet characters.

III/ Masks

My video on how to make paper masks.

Written instructions on how to make simple masks elsewhere on this website (as shown in the photos below).

You can make a simple mask by drawing the mask on cardstock, cutting it out, then attaching a string to tie the mask on your face. The difficult part is figuring out where the eyeholes should be. The link above has templates you can use to make masks, with eyeholes about the right distance apart.

A simple tie-on mask made of cardstock and string

Instead of tying the mask on, you can also mount the mask on a stick, as shown below. Use a piece of folded corrugated cardboard to make the stick. You can tape the tick on the mask.

Simple cardstock mask mounted on a stick