≡ Menu

Paper Bag Puppets: Using Art to Inspire Story-writing and Puppetry

paper bag puppets recycled household items

Pin It

Who would have thought that something as humble, humdrum and boilerplate-like as a brown paper bag could fascinate a human brain; entertain it for days together and hold it under a spell!

Well, that’s what happened to us. When we were faced with a challenge thrown by my blogger friend – Rachelle at Tinkerlab – to create something creative from a mundane brown paper bag, it got our minds into a whirlwind!

We have brainstormed a dozen and more things since then and have created a few in the past few weeks.

I shared one of them last week – my brown paper bag heart luminaries. But other than that – Pari made quite a few stuff – paper bag journals, paper bag snowflakes, paper bag pizzas, paper bag hearts!

And today – as the Paper bag creative challenge goes live, I present to you Pari’s paper bag puppets and also share how this art project intersected and overlapped with a wonderful literacy exercise – story-writing. The two synchronized beautifully and led to yet another mode of creative learning – a puppet show and storytelling!

Paper bag puppets are not a new idea. You google them and will find dozens of images. But, the idea we’ve aplied is quite interesting. And, I thank The chocolate Muffin Tree for the inspiration. They made their Fandango puppets inspired by the Fandango commercials.

When I saw those images, I knew right away that Pari would be excited by such a fun project. Not just that, I spied great potential in it for some passionate writing and storytelling. And, it turned out bang-on.

Our Creative Process 

Before she started making her puppets, I asked Pari if she’d like to discuss the plot or the story that her puppets would be based on. She was more than excited.

I listened to her initial story ideas, prodded here and there, asked a few questions – taking clue from which – she moulded, re-moulded and finally went off to her table to jot her ideas down.

Satisfied, she came up to me and declared that she would want to make a Prince and Princess as her puppets. In her story, the Princess goes for a stroll by the river side where she finds a glass bottle with a message inside. When she uncorks the bottle and reads the message, a prince emerges from it.

She was going to end her story here when I prodded her to continue. How about introducing some twist, I told her. What happens after the Prince comes out? How did he get into the bottle in the first place? What was unique about the message?

After all these questions, she introduced another character – a Witch! She adds that it was the Witch who made him disappear into the bottle. But, even when the Prince managed to come out, he’s scared that the Witch might play her evil trick again.

Considering which, she introduced an owl. This owl – owned by the Princess will fly and sit on the Witch’s head. As soon as the owl will perch on her head, she will lose all her black magic and instead will be blessed by divine magic. Then on, she will go about doing only good things to people. And the Prince and Princess stay together – happily ever after!

The story came first and then the puppets

Now that she knew the characters for her Puppets – or should I say – the Fandango puppets – she goes about figuring how to create the look. Since Fandango Puppets are made using waste household items (besides the two basic raw material – paper bags and glue), our junk cabinet was to be our go-to resource.

Some of the things we spied in our junk cabinet:

  • Fabric scraps from the tailor shop (yeah, I shamelessly go about collecting these rags)
  • Bottle caps/lids
  • Yarn
  • Hair bands
  • Broken hair clips
  • Expired pasta/noddles/beans
  • Empty Medicine strips
  • Last remnants of crayons
  • Caps of waste pens/sketch-pens/sharpies
  • Old sharpeners

Pari was pretty sure she wanted her Princess dressed all pink. This part was fun and easy for her.

how to make paper bag puppets fandango style

The glass beads that had gone white from the under side – due to being under hardwater in my terracotta pot, were used as lovely blue eyes for the Princess. She was given a cute button nose and painted some blush on her cheeks. She got a golden painted necklace and pouty pink lips (I cut them up and pari pasted). The lips seem to be a prominent feature of all Fandango puppets.

paper bag princess puppet

Creating the look for the Prince with those household items was not so easy. More so – his eyes!

No matter what she used – caps, marbles, buttons, he looked rather monstrous or animal-lish!

paper bag prince puppet

Finally, something seemed to click. I suggested that she created some eyebrows to make him look decent. The eyebrows were made out of strings of the paper bag itself!

The witch was easy to create too.

paper bag puppets

Pari spelled out the look she wanted before she even started – long piercing eyes, long nose, teethy grin, coarse, unruly hair, purple attire and a broom in her hand (did not get around to adding the broom  as her friends poured in and she ran away to play).

The owl was made by an older friend of Pari – Mitali, who’s about 15. She used expired pasta and coloured them.

paper bag puppet owl with recycled items

I gave her some paper strip beads (Pari had made long time back) that she used as the owl’s head.

Once we had the puppets, we did some rehearsal for the upcoming puppet show. We are planning to do it sometime next week with Pari’s friends chipping in too! We’ll be discussing the script this week – for the puppet show.

I’ll keep you posted about it.

fandango paper bag puppets and literacy ideas

What a fun and creative mix of art, literacy and drama this turned out to be! It kept Pari busy for 3-4 days! And, I can vouch we will be making many more of these puppets for storytelling and drama.

Here are some more examples of how art and literacy can be integrated to enrich learning for our children:

If you’d like to make Fandango puppets, go ahead and try for it’s a really process-oriented, open-ended sort of art/craft that will fuel the child’s imagination.

Or,  I recommend this game that lets you create your Fandango puppets online. Pari and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Tinkerlab’s creative challenge is seeing participation from around the world!

You can participate too!

If you have created something with paper bag or plan to create soon, please add your post or photo below in the linky. There’s a Pinterest contest happening around it, too! You will be entered into the contest to win some attractive goodies.


Here’s a whole creative bunch of bloggers who are showcasing their creation with brown paper bag. Visit these fabulous blogs to see their inspiring creations.

Paint Cut Paste, Imagination SoupHands On: As We Grow, Child Central Station, Putti Prapancha, Irresistible Ideas for Play-Based LearningTeach Preschool, The Chocolate Muffin Tree, Nurture Store, Small Types,Make Do & FriendThe Imagination Tree, Toddler Approved, Red Ted Art, Kids in the Studio, Rainy Day Mum, Glittering Muffins, Sense of Wonder, Mom To 2 Posh Lil Divas, Come Together Kids, My Creative Family, Kitchen Counter Chronicles, A Mom With A Lesson Plan, Angelique Felix, The Golden Gleam, Clarion Wren, Living at the Whitehead’s Zoo, Let Kids Create, De tout et de rien, PlayDrMomCreativity My PassionKiwi Crate, Tinkerlab, Mommy Labs

I need help sustaining this blog…

Dear blog readers – It’s been exactly eight years now that I’ve been writing on this blog! Yes, eight long years and hundreds of articles. From art, creativity and learning; to food, health, gardening, travel, sustainable and mindful living, natural birth. In our un-schooling life, as we go on introspecting, questioning and evolving, I’ve strived to share our stories and experiences with as much honesty, care and sincerity as possible.

I spend hours writing an article – and often write and rewrite many times before it rings true to me and sounds worthy of your time to read.

The most important thing for me is to keep this blogging endeavour authentic and true to my values. This blog has been my sacred space to express, share, feel empowered and contribute. Hence, I do not like to support businesses that don’t align with my values. So far, I’ve rarely taken sponsorship from brands and companies. I haven’t placed any ads on my blog, though there have been multiple offers.

Infact, I’d like to keep this blog ad free unless something truly meaningful comes across.
Yet, there’s a cost to running this blog. The basic cost of keeping the domain alive, and hosting all this content on. I spend roughly INR 10,000 (USD 173) just to keep this blog up and running. So, I need to cover this cost. Plus, it’d be nice to bring in some income for our family of four. And, this is where I request your support.

If you find my articles and stories useful or inspiring at some level, please help me sustain. Starting from 1 dollar or 100 rupees to whatever you can, do consider donating for the content I share; for my intention and the time and effort I put. Your support will go a long way in keeping this blog (of 8+ years) sparkling with stories for many more years to come. Thank you, dear ones. I’ll value what you’ll gift with love and kindness. :-)

International readers: Donate using PayPal

Help me sustain

Readers in India: Donate here

Help me sustain

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rachelle | TinkerLab February 6, 2012, 7:01 am

    These are so fun, Roopa. I was also inspired by Melissa’s take on it, and Pari’s interpretation is equally wonderful. Love those projects that help us clear out the junk drawer — you never know what you’ll find in there! Painted pasta, hair clips, fabric…it’s all wonderful!

    • Rashmie February 6, 2012, 9:23 am

      Rashmie here ;) (Roopa is at Putti Prapancha)

      Thank you for setting up the challenge that gave us an opportunity to clear out the junk! ha ha! But seriously, I LOVE it when we are able to use junk for our art/craft and recreate something wonderful. One of the nicest ways to show some respect and love to our Mother Earth!

  • Srishti February 6, 2012, 8:35 am

    This is awesome. I sometimes feel that we can’t even imagine what kind of creative exposure these kind of activities give to kids. I read somewhere that brain develops more if it is used more. These are such great ways to stimulate the thinking of our young ones. The puppets look so different and I never knew about this method of converting paper bags to puppets. Looks so interesting ! Integrating story creation and visualizing charecters makes this entire activity so enriching !

    • Rashmie February 6, 2012, 9:28 am

      You’re right – one cannot really fathom the depth and breadth of this kind of hands on learning. It’s so much fun and enriching and makes childhood worth it. Why waste away their magical days by making them mug-up spellings and facts and write reams of text in the name of handwriting…
      Thank you, Srishti, for being here and for sharing your perspective :)

  • maggy,red ted art February 6, 2012, 12:05 pm

    WOW WOW WOW! I love these puppets! I love all the different materials and texture you used they are gorgeous and so individual. Wow indeed!


    • Rashmie February 6, 2012, 12:49 pm

      Thank you, Maggy! How lovely of you to say that. I loved the textures, too. And it was fun watching Pari figure out what to use to create each feature on the puppet’s face!

  • Melissa @ The Chocolate Muffin Tree February 6, 2012, 1:25 pm

    These are great! Glad to have inspired you and Pari! It makes me smile!

  • Roopa February 6, 2012, 3:52 pm

    These are such wonderful puppets Rashmie!! I love that Pari came up with a story and then made puppets to go with her story:) And that owl looks great!!!

    PS- I carried a lot of cloths scraps from india, stealed from my aunt who is tailor ;)

  • Ann February 7, 2012, 3:06 pm

    I just especially love how you expanded the puppet project and incorporated story! Takes it to a whole other level!!! These puppets have so much personality!

    What an amazing educational experience you are providing for Pari! My daughter would love your school!

  • Jill @ A Mom With A Lesson Plan February 9, 2012, 2:00 pm

    I adore this activity! When Little M does art my favorite thing to do is sit and listen. While she creates a story unfolds. She will LOVE this activity!

  • Mary September 9, 2012, 5:21 am

    I love the Paper Bags Activity. I usually make Party Loot Bags. Will share photos next time.

  • Blair October 25, 2013, 3:30 am

    I’ve been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It’s pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you
    did, the internet will be a lot more useful than ever before.