How to Use Puppets to Tell a Story

By Kay Hammer ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Puppet(s)
  • Story
  • Props
  • Scenery

Puppets are a great addition to any story teller's toolbox. They help to bring tales to life, interact easily with any audience and can create enormous amounts of humor with just a small move or look. Puppets range in size and elaborateness from a small finger puppet made of yarn to a large human-motorized figure that stands at 20 feet tall. No matter which puppet you are intending to use, you can be sure it will be fun for both yourself and the audience.

Storytelling with Puppets

Select the story and appropriate puppet(s). If you know which story you want to tell you can choose a puppet to tell the story as the narrator or find a puppet (or two) to act as characters within the story as you narrate. You can also easily create a puppet with crafts around your home. If you already have a puppet to use then you need to find a story that he can either narrate or act out. Either way try to make the puppet and story match one another as much as you can or play up the mismatch with a lot of humor. For example, if you really want to tell the story of "The Three Little Pigs" and only have a puppet of a chicken you can dress up the chicken with pig ears and a tail or let him be the narrator explaining how chickens always build good houses on the first round.

Learn how to use your puppet. Before introducing your puppet to your audience understand how the slightest movements in the puppet can express different emotions and body movements. Make your puppet happy, sad, angry, bored, anxious or shy. Make your puppet run, walk, sit, stand, and jump. You can practice the movements on yourself, a friend, or in front of a mirror. If your puppet is going to narrate the story or speak to other characters practice making the puppet speak in sync with your voice. If you have two or more puppets practice transitioning between using each one and if you are going to be having a friend help you on story day, make sure to practice with her too. Practice anything else that is particular to your story and don't forget to practice talking to your puppet and have him talk back to you.

Set the stage. Create, find or purchase props and scenery that help in creating the stage for your story. You do not need much. For example, if the story takes place outside in the forest in the rain and the puppet finds a stray dog you can make a tree for the background, an umbrella for the puppet's hand and use a stuffed puppy dog as a prop.

Tell your story using your puppet and props without an audience. Learn from your mistakes and add humor to your story when applicable.

Introduce your puppet to your audience. Build up the excitement of your audience by announcing that you brought a special friend with you to help you tell them a story. Ask them to guess who your friend might be. Give hints if necessary. When the time is right, let them meet your puppet. If the puppet goes onto your hand, turn away from the class or go outside the door to put on the puppet. Never let your audience see you put your puppet on your hand. Have a short introductory session with your puppet interacting with you and your audience before you begin to tell your story.

Tell your story using the puppet. Utilize all the skills you learned when working on your puppets emotions, body movements and voice. Pause in your story for laughter from the audience. Ad-lib anything that seems appropriate to your story at this point that might not have occurred to you during your practice time. When finished with your story, remove the puppet from your hand out of view of your audience.

About the Author

Kay Hammer has been a freelance writer since 2009. She has a B.S. in Retailing and Consumer Sciences from the University of Arizona and an M.A. in Environmental Leadership from Naropa University. She has written for various publications through school such as the Turning Leaf and Demand Studios such as Golf Link.