Garbage—A Puppet's Paradise

3, 4, 5

The purpose of this lesson is to teach students about different types of puppets so they can make their own puppets out of recycled materials. The students use their creativity to come up with a movable puppet that represents a character in their puppet play.

PrintTwo Sixty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • create a puppet using primarily trash items.
  • learn about some different types of puppets and how they work.
  • work cooperatively to design the puppets that represent the characters in the puppet play.
  • Large variety of items you would normally throw away: paper towel rolls, Styrofoam, plastic ware, fabric scraps (old clothes), yarn, old buttons, old socks, plastic containers (dish soap works great), broom handles, dowels, old CDs, dryer lint (makes great stuffing for puppet heads) Teacher Note: Have students bring these in prior to this lesson.
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Needles and thread, optional
  • Examples of various types of puppets: stick, sock, finger, pop-up
  • John E. Kennedy, Puppet Mania or Laura Ross, Hand Puppets: How to Make and Use Them
  • Adult helpers or volunteers
  • Kennedy, John E. Puppet Mania. North Light Books, 2004. ISBN: 1581803729
  • Ross, Laura. Hand Puppets: How to Make and Use Them. Dover Publications, 1990. ISBN: 0486261611


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Show students examples of different types of puppets: sock puppet, stick puppet, pop-up puppet, hand puppet and others you have available. Pass the examples around so students can look at them closely. Analyze with the students how the puppets are put together, how they move and what the advantages and disadvantages are of each type. Demonstrate—and let the students experiment with—how to use the puppets to communicate a feeling, expression or idea. Show some pages of the puppet book and explain how it can be used as a resource for making puppets and using puppets to communicate ideas.

  2. Set up some guidelines for puppet construction. Each student should make at least one puppet. Tell the groups to plan together carefully to make sure each character in the script is represented by a puppet. Preview the rubric (below) with the students.

  3. Have students construct their puppets using the recycled pieces. Hot glue works well for this project, but make sure to have an adult apply the hot glue for the students.

  4. Assist and guide students to make sure that the puppets are sturdy/well supported and that they can move freely.

  5. When the puppet construction is done, students sit in a circle with their puppets. Students introduce their puppets to the class by manipulating the puppets and using their puppet voices/characters. They should name the type of puppet and explain what recycled materials was reused to create the puppet. Other students can offer specific praise or suggestions for improvement. Use the rubric to assess the students on their puppet construction and demonstration.


Teacher will assess the student’s puppet using the following rubric.