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Puppeteering Tips

Bring your Puppets to Life!!


How to Make Your Puppets come to Life!!“Oh, but I could never do that!”

With puppet in hand, proceed to the nearest mirror to try it on for size. By following these few tips, you’ll soon convince friends and children that you’re a natural puppeteer.

1. Insert your thumb in one paw, and the little finger in the other. This leaves three fingers for the manipulation of the nose and/or mouth. NOTE: even if you’re right-handed, you might find your left hand more relaxed for puppeteering (or vice-versa.) This is a common experience, and one we can’t explain.

2. With the animal on one hand, hold it in the crook of your other arm. This gives your puppet a nice nest and conceals the secret of your participation. Remember that nothing looks more awkward (or unconvincing) than a puppet perched on the end of an extended arm and hand.

3. If your puppet has a snout (bears, beavers, raccoons, skunks), two twitching fingers will produce a wiggling nose.

4. Have your puppet crawl up your shoulder, tug at your sleeve, scratch, twist around, or hide in the crook of your arm.

5. For animals with tails, nest the puppet on your free arm, extending your fingers of that arm toward the elbow of your “puppet arm.” Position your thumb under the base of the tail and move it up and down to swish the tail.

6. The sea otter, small panda, and cats look particularly endearing on their backs, in the crook of your arm. From this position, have them gaze at their audience, occasionally hiding their eyes behind their paws, scratching, or nestling down for a snooze.

7. Props like rubber balls, oranges, small mirrors, cups, or wrapped candy will awaken the natural curiosity of your animal.

8. Insert your whole hand through the hidden sleeve of the larger, cuddly animals for animated head action.

9. Some puppets require the use of all of your fingers and others just the use of a couple or just one finger. If the puppet has a mouth that opens, eyes that roll, nose that wrinkles, and paws or legs that get into things, you will need all of your fingers to put on a good show.

Surprise your audience with the antics of a puppet. Remember, you’re showing off a personality, not just a stuffed animal.

To use your puppets as a decoration, you may want to try to nest your puppets in plants, baskets, trunks, or window sills. Or stop by your local hardware store for a tricycle or lawnmower tire. Hang one from a piece of rope for a tire swing for a raccoon.

Use your imagination – and just have fun!

Remember to give your puppet personality!

Each puppet has its own identity. You, as the puppeteer, have the privilege to create the personality that is expressed by what the puppet says and does. Should the puppet be a grump or an optimist, a generous character, or just plain stingy? You decide what type of personality you want each puppet to have. Change your voice to higher or lower, louder or softer, as your puppets talk to each other. You write the skit, you provide the circumstances, and your puppets can solve the problems (or create them, if you wish).

Practice your manipulation in front of a mirror as you perfect the puppet personality you want to achieve.

Enjoy your puppets and let them speak for you!!

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