I HAVE A STORY TO TELL – Rod Puppet, Colour, Detail

Students use Model Magic and a paint stir stick to create a rod puppet with a distinct personality. 

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 2 to Grade 8


Language Arts
Visual Arts



Crayola Model Magic - Assorted Colours Crayola Washable No-Run School Glue Crayola Scissors Crayola Glitter Glue Paint Stir Sticks - 1 per student Googly Eyes and Other Embellishments Pipe Cleaners - 3 per student Ribbon Bamboo Skewers - 30.5 cm (12") long - 2 per student Felt Pieces - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") - 1 per student

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I HAVE A STORY TO TELL – Rod Puppet, Colour, Detail - Step One

Step One

  1. Mix Model Magic colours together to get the colour you need for the head of your puppet.
    - For example, to make brown mix red, yellow and blue together.
  2. You need to mix an amount about the size of a tennis ball in order to have enough to make the head and hands.
  3. Place some of the mixed Model Magic aside and roll the rest into a ball.
  4. Hold the ball in the palm of your hand and place the paint stir stick on top of it.
  5. Make sure the stick covers the whole ball.
I HAVE A STORY TO TELL – Rod Puppet, Colour, Detail - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Wrap the Model Magic around the stick. 
  2. Form the head.
  3. Add enough details to give the puppet a personality.
    - Stick pieces of Model Magic to the head for things like ears and hair.
    -  Press things like buttons and googly eyes into the Model Magic to make them stick.
I HAVE A STORY TO TELL – Rod Puppet, Colour, Detail - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Choose a piece of felt for the body of the puppet.
  2. Fold it in half, short end to short end.
  3. Place the dress pattern on top of the felt.
  4. Make sure the top of the pattern is along the fold. Cut out the dress.
  5. Remember to cut out the small opening at the top of the dress.
I HAVE A STORY TO TELL – Rod Puppet, Colour, Detail - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Choose two pipe cleaners to use for the arms.
  2. Make an X with the two ends.
  3. Twist them together to make one long pipe cleaner. 
I HAVE A STORY TO TELL – Rod Puppet, Colour, Detail - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Wrap the long pipe cleaner around the paint stick just below the chin of the head you created.
  2. Pull it tight.
  3. Make sure the arms are the same length on both sides of the puppet.
I HAVE A STORY TO TELL – Rod Puppet, Colour, Detail - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Slip the dress onto the stick FROM THE BOTTOM.
  2. DO NOT try to put it over the head.
  3. Fold the arms down along the stick.
  4. Gently insert the stick and arms into the opening at the top of the dress.
  5. Pull the felt dress up the stick making sure the arms are inside.
I HAVE A STORY TO TELL – Rod Puppet, Colour, Detail - Step Seven

Step Seven

  1. Once the dress is in place, pull the pipe cleaners up and out to form the arms.
  2. Tie a ribbon or pipe cleaner around the waist to hold the dress in place. 
I HAVE A STORY TO TELL – Rod Puppet, Colour, Detail - Step Eight

Step Eight

  1. Set the puppet aside.
  2. To make the hands, roll two balls of Model Magic the same size.
  3. Gently flatten the balls and use scissors to make 4 cuts for fingers along one edge.
I HAVE A STORY TO TELL – Rod Puppet, Colour, Detail - Step Nine

Step Nine

  1. Stick the skewer into the hand.
  2. Make sure it goes in as far as possible.
  3. Gently pinch the bottom of the hand to secure it to the stick. Round the fingers and add details.
I HAVE A STORY TO TELL – Rod Puppet, Colour, Detail - Step Ten

Step Ten

  1. Attach the end of the pipe cleaner to the skewer close to the bottom of the hand.
  2. Put a small amount of glue around the edge of the pipe cleaner.
  3. Repeat for the other hand.
I HAVE A STORY TO TELL – Rod Puppet, Colour, Detail - Step Eleven

Step Eleven

  1. Allow the puppet to dry for 2 days.
  2. When it is dry use your puppet to tell a story.
  3. Move the hands by holding the stick and one skewer in one hand, and holding the opposite skewer in your other hand.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a rod puppet with a distinct personality;
  • mix secondary and tertiary colours;
  • respond to the work of their peers;
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


  1. Place students into small groups.
  2. Have them work with their puppet characters to develop a story worth telling. (This could be connected to a theme you are studying.)
  3. Remind them to establish a clear setting, develop relationships among the characters and to create a story that shows the characters encountering some kind of problem and figuring out how to resolve it.
  4. Have students write and refine the script, and decide on how best to present it – props, backdrops, sound effects etc.
  5. Allow students plenty of time to practise and rehearse their stories.
  6. Consider taping the audio portion of the play and simply moving the puppets to the sound track.
  7. Finally, present the plays to your own class and/or others.
  8. Video the performances throughout so students can view their works in progress.
  9. Be sure to include lots of peer assessment throughout the process so students can learn from each other.


  1. Create a sample rod puppet to show students.
  2. Place desks in groups of about 6.
  3. Arrange felt and pipe cleaners separated by colour, decorative items, and skewers on a central table.
  4. Place paint stir sticks, Model Magic, project glue and scissors in a small basket – one for each group.
  5. Photocopy a few puppet dress patterns for students to share. (Downloads – RodPuppetPattern.pdf)
  6. Download the Colour Wheel poster available in 'Resources' on this site. 


  1. Introduce your puppet to the class taking on the role of its personality. Chat with the students and the puppet for a few minutes asking and answering questions.
  2. Talk about your puppet's personality. Discuss details and actions that bring the puppet to life. 
  3. Review/introduce the colour wheel and demonstrate how to mix Model Magic to create new colours.
  4. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a rod puppet with enough details that the viewer will have some ideas about its personality just by looking at it.
  2. Mix Model Magic to make new colours.
  3. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  4. Respond to the work of others.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I:
    - use visual details that communicate information about the puppet's personality
    - mix new colours 
    - make sure the finished puppet is in good condition
  3. Ask one student from each group to pick up a materials basket for their table.
  4. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  5. Invite students to choose eyes and embellishments from the central table when they need them.
  6. Observe students as they work.
  7. Once a student is ready to add the arms and the dress ask students to stop and watch as you demonstrate the next few steps.
  8. As students are working observe how they solve problems, choose materials and add details to their work.
  9. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into pairs.
  2. Ask them to take on the role of their puppet. Ask them to take turns introducing themselves in role and learning as much as they can about each other. Remind them that they should be working the puppet while they do this as if the puppet is doing the talking.
  3. Then ask students to remain in role and introduce their partner’s puppet to the rest of the class, providing 3 details about the puppet as part of the introduction. For example, “I’d like to introduce Lala. She is 4 years old, loves to swim and has a cat for a best friend.”
  4. Discuss:
    How did the information about the puppet fit with the way it looked?
    - How did the action of the puppet(s) contribute to the effectiveness of the introduction?
    - How did the puppet’s voice affect the introduction?
    - How well could you hear what was being said?
  5. Ask students to sort their puppets into groups of 4 or 5.
  6. Discuss:
    - How did you decide which puppets to place together?
    - What interests you about this group of puppets?
    - How do the details in the puppets contribute to their personalities?
  7. Invite students to use their groups of puppets to make an impromptu puppet play and present it to the class.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting
  2. Observe students as they discuss the puppets – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – RodPuppet_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – RodPuppet_self-assessment.pdf or RodPuppetPrimary_self-assessment.pdf)