Hello! Well, it’s Ash Wednesday and that means one thing: Lent. Ready? Me neither, but here we go! I am determined to help my children understand Lent and the Passion a little bit better this year, even though they are still quite young. To this end, I have have been working hard on what I am excited to be sharing with you today: 13 Lenten Finger Puppets. It is my hope that allowing my children to play with these puppets they can come to understand the important things said and done by each person, and the message we can learn in each case.
I have set this up as a create-along. Each day I will share another Lenten Finger Puppet complete with a template, tutorial and brief reflection. It is my hope that you, or your child, can make this a daily activity and in the end you will have a complete set ready to teach children. All of the templates are completely free, my only hope is that they are put to good use!
Since the puppets are generally made in the same way, I am using this first post as a place for general instructions. As you work, please refer back here for detailed instructions and tips.
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Supplies–These are felt finger puppets. Since I work with felt often, and have a large supply, I used wool felt. This is more expensive, and crafting felt, bought at a place like Walmart, will work well too. I have a few examples of the puppets made in crafting felt at the bottom of this post. Beyond felt you will also need clear packing tape (for cutting out pieces), embroidery thread and needle, a glue ( I used Fabric Tac) and a sharp pair of scissors.
Using Templates–I have created a unique template for each puppet. These are free to you and will download in a PDF format. Once you have it, simply print it on regular paper, cut out the pieces and use!
Cutting—Once you have the template and supplies it’s time to get cutting that felt. This is where the packing tape comes in. It is really difficult to cut out small detailed pieces out of felt, unless you use clear tape. For this method, simply cut out the template piece, cut out a piece of felt roughly bigger then the template, and tape the template down to the felt. Then, cut. This will hold the template piece in place, without the buckling that will happen if you use pins.
Cutting Beards—The one time you might not want to use the templates for is cutting beards, and there are a lot of bearded fellows in this collection! Instead, use the template to cut out the general shape and then, fold the felt in half and free-hand cut out the holes for eyes and mouth.
Creating Eyes—There are several ways to give your puppets eyes. Since I am a stitcher I used French Knots (here is a great video tutorial for French Knots), but you can also make eyes our of black beads, fabric paint, or black Sharpie Markers. Your choice.
General Assembly–Since I used glue the assembly is quite easy. Once the eyes and special stitched on details are done, glue the smaller pieces like the beards, robes, chalices, etc onto one of the body pieces. Then all of those pieces are in place, then take the back body piece and draw a thin line of glue around the edge on what will be the inside of the puppet. Try to stay as close the edge as possible, and make sure to leave the bottom open. Then, press the two pieces together and allow to dry. I really recommend using as quick-drying glue!
A Word on Stitching VS Gluing–I like to stitch (see here), but didn’t have the time to stitch up all these puppets. In the tutorials to follow I add a few stitching details where needed, but I generally used glue, and am happy with the result. If, however, you would prefer to stitch, here are a few simple instructions.
- Attach on Robes, Beards, etc with a running stitch in matching thread.
- To attach the front and back pieces use a blanket stitch, as pictured above.
And, if you do succeed in stitching up all of these, God Bless you. I did a few and quickly switched gears and went out and bought some glue! Below are a couple of examples of completed stitched puppets. These puppets were also made with general crafting felt:
Reflections–for each puppet I have included a simple reflection that focuses on what this person said, did and what simple lessons we might learn from this. These are basic and certainly not something you have to use. I hoped only to give you a place to start while using these puppets.
Annnnnd, there you have it! Please, let me know if you have any questions, and I’d love to hear about how you have decided to use your puppets once they are made.