A spontaneous puppet show will brighten your child's day.

How to Put on a Puppet Show for Toddlers

by Karen LoBello

It’s a world of fantasy -- at least if you’re a 2- or 3-year-old. Toddlers thrive in the world of make-believe. Want to see a smile light up your little guy’s face? Pull out the puppets! He’ll think you’re the best thing since the pacifier. If you’re hosting a play date, entertain your tiny guests and their moms with an enchanting puppet show. All you really need is an imagination and some household materials.

Choose a script. It’s as simple as making his favorite picture book or nursery rhyme spring to life or even playing a storybook on tape. Set the scene for “Jack and Jill went up the hill,” and you’ll have a captive audience. Toddlers love repetition. Make up your own show with just a few sentences. You can even throw in a lesson. Repeat the same phrase: “Should Jack share his truck with Mike? Sure he should!” “Should Jack share his book with Mike? Sure, he should!”

Create puppets. If you have insomnia some night and want to make elaborate marionettes, go for it. But, if you simply want to grab your child’s stuffed animals to use as the characters in your puppet show, that’s okay too. You can design your own puppets from simple materials such as socks, paper bags, paper plates, craft sticks or cardboard tubes. Your child will enjoy being your helper on this project. Remember, nothing scary. You don’t want your little audience members running for cover.

Build a theater or create a makeshift stage. For a ready-made platform, simply turn a coffee table on its end, hang a curtain on a spring rod in an open doorway or stand behind your sofa. Feeling a little creative? Grab some wood pieces or a large cardboard box. Add details with paints in the bright colors that toddlers love, and you’ll have your own magical theater to use over and over again.

Include props and background music to amp up the fun factor. Toddlers love anything that taps into their senses. You can even try out your rhythmic talents with an occasional shake of a maraca or tambourine for effect. Hey, it doesn’t take much to impress kids. Add props to your theater from items you have around the house such as foam, felt or pictures from magazines.

Rehearse the puppet show. Of course, this is only if you’re performing for the play group and their moms or taking your show on the road to your child’s day care class. Otherwise, it’s a safe bet that you can wing it. Remember to vary your vocal tone to make the characters come alive. You may not be ready for Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, but you will capture the hearts of your little guy and his friends. How can you beat that?

Items you will need

  • Puppets
  • Story
  • Stage


  • Make sure all materials are kid-friendly, non-toxic and safe, just in case your little one decides to take his turn as the puppeteer.

About the Author

Karen LoBello is coauthor of “The Great PJ Elf Chase: A Christmas Eve Tradition.” She began writing in 2009, following a career as a Nevada teacher. LoBello holds a bachelor's degree in K-8 education, a secondary degree in early childhood education and a master's degree in computer education.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images