Ghostly Guppy

ghostly guppieAfter spotting the fabulous upside down goldfish ghost Marissa designed for her literary exhibit, I vowed I would find a way to replicate it as a story time project. And behold! A floating paper plate goldfish ghost marionette!

We read Goldfish Ghost, written by Lemony Snicket, and illustrated by Lisa Brown (Roaring Brook Press, 2017). Goldfish Ghost, who comes into being floating on top of his fishbowl, floats out the window to seek company. But the world is vast, loud, and bustling. Goldfish Ghost is disheartened to find no company. Until he meets the ghost of the lighthouse keeper. Now the two are the best of friends, settled in quietly together, by the lighthouse light.

You’ll need:

  • 2 paper plates
  • White construction paper
  • String or clear elastic beading cord
  • 1 drinking straw
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Black markers for decorating

goldfish ghost marionetteTo make the marionette, trim the outside perimeters off 2 paper plates. Use marker to draw eyes, a mouth, and scales on the plates.Next, tape a white construction paper tail and fins to the inside of 1 plate.

In the book, Goldfish Ghost floats upside down, so tape a length of string or elastic beading cord to the belly of the fish. Then tape the 2 plates together. Knot the string around a drinking straw, and your fabulous marionette is complete!

Oh, Snap!

oh snap

These snap-tastic alligator puppets are adorable…and hungry! But what do you feed a story time alligator? Literally, anything!

We read Suddenly Alligator, written by Rick Walton, and illustrated by Jim Bradshaw (Gibbs Smith, 2004). When a young man’s socks hit the 3 month “no wash” limit, he heads to town to purchase a new pair. Along the way, an alligator gives chase. Nothing in the boy’s pockets seem to thwart this ferocious beast, until the alligator gets a whiff of the boy’s socks. Much to his relief, it knocks the alligator right out! In addition to hilarious illustrations of the ferocious, relentless alligator, the book ends each section with an adverb – anxiously, cautiously, hungrily, boldly, desperately, fondly – making it a fantastically funny read aloud.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large large tissue box
  • Green construction paper
  • Green poster board
  • White card stock
  • 1 alligator puppet mouth template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper
  • 2 jumbo pom-poms
  • Scissors, tape, and a stapler for construction
  • Markers for decorating

In the book, the alligator devours a pair of pliers the boy throws at him. We thought it would be funny to make a puppet that eats things too. In this case, a plastic ball:

First, cut one end off a tissue box. This is where your alligator’s mouth will attach. Next, cut extra space around the tissue-dispensing slit. This allows the puppeteer’s hand to move more freely, and makes it easier to remove objects the alligator has “eaten.”

underside of alligator puppet The alligator’s mouth consists of 2 “mouth pockets.” Print the template, and then cut 2 top mouth pockets out of green poster board. Staple the 2 pieces together to form a pocket:

mouth pocket Now tape the mouth pocket to the top of the tissue box. Important! Just tape the TOP piece of the mouth pocket to the box. You’ll need to leave the bottom piece free so you can slip your fingers into the pocket and operate the puppet. Here’s a photo of the taped mouth pocket. I used red masking tape so you can see what I’m describing more clearly:

taping puppet mouth Repeat the above steps with the bottom mouth pocket, then add card stock teeth to the mouth. To operate the puppet, slide your fingers in the top mouth pocket, and your thumb in the lower mouth pocket.

hand in alligator puppet mouthHere’s the finished alligator…we used green construction paper for the body, and green poster board for the legs and tail. Notice that the legs dangle off the bottom of the box with tape hinges – the puppet sits better in your arms that way. The eyes are jumbo pom-poms with dot sticker pupils (paper circles work too). We also offered green self-adhesive foam shapes for additional texture (or just use markers).

finished alligator puppet Each kid got to take home a plastic ball for the alligator to consume, but as the kids milled around the gallery, the alligators started eating EVERYTHING. Scarves, pens, socks, hats…if it fit in the box, the gator consumed it!

Tachi-e Puppets

tach-i puppetsFlip the puppet back and forth to reveal a simple, dynamic story! This project was part of our library’s World Kamishibai Day performance. Called tachi-e (“standing pictures”), the puppets originate from 19th century Japan.

You’ll need:

  • 2 rectangles of white paper
  • 2 rectangles of black poster board
  • 1 pair of new, intact chopsticks
  • Scissors and glue for construction
  • Markers, pens, and color pencils for decorating
  • Hot glue

A tachi-e puppet is two sided. The first side is the puppet at rest, then quickly flip it to create a change. This Japanese lantern ghost was designed by artist Tara McGowan:

lantern ghost by tara mcgowanIt’s way cooler to see the puppet in action though…

First, draw a 2-step sequential scene on 2 separate rectangles of white paper. Cut each drawing out, then glue each on a rectangle of black poster board (our rectangles were 5.5″ x 8.5″). Hot glue a pair of new, intact chopsticks to the back of the first poster board rectangle, then hot glue the second poster board rectangle on top of it. Twirl the stick to operate the puppet!

The kids had some great idea for puppets. I managed to snap a couple. A hatching chick…

chicken duo

A budding tree (with squirrels running up the trunk!)…

tree duoA very sweet butterfly…

butterfly duoA single fish that goes “Pop!” and turns into a school of fish…

fish duoAn exploding firework…

bam duoAnd a girl that duplicates into 5 girls!

girl duoIf that last one seems a little confusing, it was inspired by a kamishibai performance of Manmaru manma tantakatan (written by Fumiko Araki, and illustrated by Takuya Kusumi). It’s about a ninja boy who duplicates himself to foil a wicked serpent.


From Amazon