Here’s a website that is totally devoted to the making of paper puppets.
For a subscription fee you can have access to dozens of hand puppet templates, hundreds of images/patterns, and a wealth of information on puppets and play. They have animals like birds, a butterfly, lizards, bumble-bee, elephant and others to choose from. But, the author suggests you go beyond the patterns and do your own “freestyle” puppet. The templates are simple PDF’s that are downloaded and traced onto construction paper, they are then adhered to a main “hinge”(simple instructions on making the hinge can be downloaded as a PDF).
How can these puppets be used? The mission of puppetools “is to open the door to sweeping change in education by advancing the principle of play in teaching and learning.” The site encourages creativity when designing puppets, and using your imagination to use the puppet with learning. Maybe the puppet you make can teach math one day. I’m sure that will make the kids giggle! My boys had a lot of fun making their own puppets. We started out with the basic hinge, and allowed them to come up with their own creations. They made a mouse, a pikachu (pokemon), and a bird, and they needed no prodding to play, they just took right off and got very silly with the puppets. I’d say that was exactly the point – the kids create a puppet and play follows naturally.
I can see this working well for a Sunday school or homeschool co-op, or other big group who need some easy craft ideas. All you need is some paper and scissors, a few things to glue on and you have got your craft. I for one appreciate simplicity when doing arts and crafts in our house. I don’t want to spend a fortune on supplies we will only use once.
(Refer to the website for individual family vs. large group pricing information).
You can watch some orientation videos on their website to learn more about the puppets and how they can be incorporated in your learning programs.