How to Make Paper Bag Puppets With Your Children and Release Their Imaginations

From the time I started teaching pre-K and kindergarten until the time I stopped (over 12 years), I saw one very sad change in my students: a dramatic decrease in their imaginations. When I began teaching, I would stand back and get amazed at how creative they were and lament the fact that we lose this ability as we age.  They could play for hours in the kitchen area, pretending they were baking a cake for someone's birthday or preparing a feast for the king and queen. They'd dictate detailed stories to me that would make me wonder how they could see so clearly what I couldn't. They could build fabulous structures from blocks and Legos. They could create elaborate games outsides with no equipment other than sticks and their cleverness. Yet, through the years, I saw their imaginations become increasingly limited. They needed me to intervene more -- to give them something to do at all times. They no longer had that boundless inventiveness that was once the hallmark of childhood.

With the increased popularity of screens -- smart phones, laptops, computers, and televisions -- kids are spoon-fed entertainment and the imaginative part of their brains have gone dormant. Sadly, many parents don't see this as a problem. They want "academic rigor" for their children and don't care about play. They ignore what we know about the importance of imagination. Albert Einstein famously said: "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand."

With schools doing more and more to stifle children's imaginations, parents should do all they can at home to encourage it. Puppets are one of the most effective to do just that. Every home with young children should have puppets and a puppet theater (it doesn't need to be a store-bought one -- a sheet draped over a rope works just fine). Making paper bag puppets is a fun way to get the ball rolling. Kids love letting their imaginations run wild to create something they'll use again and again.

This is what you need:
  • brown or white lunch bags
  • colored construction paper
  • scissors
  • crayons
  • glue sticks
  • optional: yarn, felt, buttons
This is what you do:
  1. If the kids are little, cut some shapes for them in advance. Help them glue the shapes to their paper bag. Have them add eyes, spots, stripes, tongues, etc.
  2. If the kids are older, let them cut their own shapes, legs, hair, and arms. Have them glue their pieces to their paper bag and add details with their crayons.
  3. Encourage the children to make both real and imaginary creatures (monsters and aliens).
  4. If you're real ambitious, let them add yarn, felt, and buttons to their puppet creations.

For more fun things to do with your kids

Kids will have hours of fun with a puppet theater. It will enhance their imaginations and build their creativity.

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