How to Make a Push Puppet

By Cyndee Kromminga ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Recycled cardboard container, cylinder shaped
  • Scraps of fabric
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Craft glue
  • Styrofoam ball to fit in container
  • 1/4 inch dowel, 12 inches long
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Old pantyhose
  • Craft wire and wire cutters
  • Sewing machine
  • Rubber band
  • Miscellaneous ribbon, eyelids and buttons
  • Felt
  • Doll hair

Push puppets provide children with a fun and animated way to enjoy puppet theater play. Puppets have traditionally been made from a multitude of recycled items and this push puppet project is no exception. Save your cardboard toilet paper cores, oatmeal containers and drink mix containers for a wide range of body sizes to choose from. Making one puppet will have your children excited about dressing a whole cast of characters. This push puppet is easy to create and your children will enjoy helping you craft it.

Measure the length of your cylinder and add 1 inch. Measure around your cylinder for the width measurement and add 1 inch. Cut a piece of fabric using these measurements. And apply a thin layer of glue to the outside of the cylinder and center it on the back of the fabric piece. Roll and wrap the fabric around the cylinder and overlap the sides. Apply craft glue inside the top end of the cylinder and tuck the excess fabric inside. Trim the bottom of the fabric even with the bottom of the cylinder.

Pierce a hole in the center bottom of the cylinder with a Phillips head screwdriver. Stick the dowel through the hole and push it out through the top of the cylinder. Work it back and forth a few times until it moves easily. This is your push puppet handle and will be used to push the head out of the cylinder and pull it back in. Insert the dowel into a Styrofoam ball. The ball needs to easily fit inside the cylinder. Remove the ball and fill the hole with craft glue. Reinsert the dowel.

Cut a 6 inch piece of craft wire. Stretch a piece of old pantyhose around the ball and gather at the dowel. Wrap the gathers with the craft wire to secure.

Cut a piece of fabric the length of the cylinder, plus 2 inches by the distance around the cylinder 1 1/2 times. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, with the right sides together and match the long edges. Sew the long edges together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Do not turn right side out. Apply a thin line of craft glue 1 inch below the top edge of the cylinder. Slip the fabric tube over the cylinder and gather one edge over the craft glue. Place a rubber band over the gathered fabric at the end of the cylinder to hold. Turn the tube inside out over the end of the tube. This is your push puppet dress or shirt. Cut a 6 inch piece of craft wire. Gather the free end around the dowel below the head. Wrap the wire around the gathers.

Cover the gathers at the neck with ribbon and glue in place. If your push puppet is a girl, add eyelet lace around the neck and glue. If the push puppet is a boy, wrap and glue ribbon around the bottom of the shirt for a belt. Glue a button to the front for a buckle.

Apply glue to the top, sides and back of the head. Apply doll hair to the head. Cut the felt to make simple eyes, a nose and mouth. Glue these features to the face. Add additional accessories if desired. Pull the dowel down to hide the push puppet inside the cylinder. Push the dowel up to reveal it.

About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Cyndee Kromminga has been writing craft and interior design articles for 15 years. Her articles and craft designs have appeared in Crafting Traditions Magazine, Easy Holiday Crafting Series-House of White Birches Newsletter and Country Woman Christmas Books. Kromminga's education is in interior design and she has experience operating a craft and design business for more than 20 years.