G0oUBMJsWakD6U8F6zZjeg.jpg

Antiques Roadshow

Start watching
cYWAg84-show-poster2x3-LpD4fIm.jpg

Finding Your Roots

Start watching
hYD8A32-show-poster2x3-WZIiyi9.jpg

PBS NewsHour

Start watching
ED6PSZP-show-poster2x3-Ve6hmZh.jpg

NOVA

Start watching
6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
Membership Card
Support PBS SoCal by becoming a member today.
Other Ways to Give Card
Learn about the many ways to support PBS SoCal.
Connect with Our Team Card
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

Fun Family Math: Make a Stick Puppet

This activity helps children learn about shapes and use problem solving to build their very own stick puppets.
Support Provided By

Esta actividad también está disponible en español.

This activity helps children learn about shapes and use problem solving to build their very own stick puppets. Today we will make a frog and a bird puppet, but you can use your imagination to make all sorts of characters.

These stick puppets, built from ovals, circles, semi­circles, rectangles and triangles are fun to make and inspire hours of imaginative play. Help your child design their own puppets and put on their very own stick puppet production!

A pair of frog and bird puppets on top of a blue background
A pair of frog and bird puppets on top of a blue background. | Henry Cram / Family Math / PBS SoCal

Learning Goal

This activity will help your child:

  • Identify basic shapes and piece together their own characters
  • Learn to recognize and name shapes
  • Understand the connection between shapes and real ­life objects

Materials

  • Construction paper
  • Wooden craft sticks
  • Glue
  • Googly eyes (optional)
  • Markers or crayons

Assembly

Step 1: Cut out the various shapes required for each character from the construction paper (see descriptive imagery below.)

As you cut out the pieces, talk with your child about the different shapes:

“An oval looks like an egg, or a squashed circle. It has no straight sides or corners, but it isn’t a circle because it’s not perfectly round. Maybe this will be the head or the body?”

“A triangle has three straight sides and three corners.”

“A rectangle has four straight sides, and the sides across from each other are the same length.”

“When we cut this circle in half, we get two semicircles!”

Step 2: After you’ve cut out your shapes, glue them together, using the descriptive images below as guides.

When assembling your puppet, make sure that you have enough overlap to glue the pieces together

If you don’t have googly eyes, use a marker or crayon to draw the eyes and mouth. 

Step 3: Glue the finished puppet to a wooden craft stick.

Construct the Frog:

Green pieces of paper cut out to resemble a cartoon frog on a blue background.
A frog puppet just needs a few creatively-cut pieces of paper. | Henry Cram / Family Math / PBS SoCal

Construct the Bird:

Purple and blue pieces of paper cut out to resemble a cartoon bird on a green background.
As you cut out the pieces of paper, talk with your child about the different shapes they see. | Henry Cram / Family Math / PBS SoCal

Take It Further

Several puppets of animals (kitty, frog, bird, squid and baseball player) on top of a green background
With a little imagination, simple shapes can become anything you want. | Henry Cram / Family Math / PBS SoCal

After you’ve created the bird and the frog puppets, encourage your child to create puppets from more complex shapes — even if you don’t know the names of those shapes! Encourage their creative spirit and praise innovation. Maybe they want to make a puppet of themselves or a beloved pet. Talk to them about characters and story.

Create a theater out of a recycled box! Cut a viewing window and decorate your set. Now you can put on a show!

Book Suggestions

  • “Circles, Triangles and Squares” by Tana Hoban
  • “Mouse Shapes” by Ellen Stoll Walsh
  • “Whoo? Whoo?” by David A. Carter

This activity was inspired by “Stick Puppets - Peg + Cat” on PBS LearningMedia

Support Provided By
Read More
Mother and daughter walking in the forest

Three Outdoor Activities for Kids to Practice Sorting and Creating Sets with Nature

Things from nature like pinecones, sticks, leaves, flowers, rocks, shells and acorns are just waiting to be used to develop kids' math skills. Here are three simple ways you can use them to tap into your child’s mathematical thinking outdoors.
Cartoon of a woman in yellow grabbing a branch that holds two aye-aye lemurs.

Connecting Children to Nature and Wildlife from Home

It may feel like it's difficult for kids to engage with the natural world sometimes, but we don't always have to leave home to get our brains outside! Here are some fun ways you can help kids connect to wildlife, from going on an indoor safari, to hanging out with apes virtually and even fostering advocacy by making a supplies drive for local shelters.
little girl playing with Cardboard Box, into her new house.

Four Easy Ways to Recycle Household Materials and Play with Math

Did you ever think you could help your child practice graphing, counting, sorting, identifying shapes and making patterns with old boxes and bottle tops? It's easier than you think!