Puppetry Tips, Tricks & Techniques for Every Puppeteer


Puppetry is one of the oldest performing arts, first recorded in the 5th century BC in Ancient Greece. The puppet show has been a popular form of entertainment, with performances in theatres, television shows and festivals around the world, appealing to young children and adults alike.

A puppet can be as simple as any inanimate object that is made to move in a dramatic way by a person and often represents a human being, animal or character.

Once you’ve selected a puppet, you’ll want to develop your puppet’s voice and personality. With a vivid imagination and some basic puppetry tips and techniques, you can master your puppeteering skills and bring your character to life.

Puppet Movement

Practice opening and closing the body parts of your puppet. Depending on the type of puppet, open and close your puppet’s mouth, hands, fingers, legs and feet. For example, move the mouth of your puppet by squeezing your fingers together and opening and closing your thumb.

Developing your hand-eye coordination are important skills you need to be to be a puppeteer. Watch ventriloquist performances and puppet show videos for some inspiration on mastering the movement of your puppet.

Your Puppet’s Expressions

Familiarise yourself with your puppet’s potential range of expressions. Put your puppet through its paces emotionally with the following expressions – surprised, sad, angry, happy, excited, frustrated, sneaky, scared, shy, bossy, sleepy, mean, nervous, silly, confused, impatient, curious, kind and grumpy

Try to maintain your puppet’s emotion with its mouth closed and open, or while the puppet talks.

Lip Synching

Lip synching your puppet to existing songs or stories can help you to work on your performance and the timing of mouth movements without the added difficulty of performing a consistent voice or coming up with your own script or dialogue.

Practicing your puppet’s mouth movement with lip synching can help to make sure your puppet’s mouth is moving in a believable way. Think about the syllables in the words your puppet is saying and move the puppet’s mouth according to the number of syllables in the words it’s speaking.

Some of the best puppet performances on TV, in particular from Jim Henson’s first skits, featured lip synching to popular songs. It’s a great way to attempt different attitudes and personalities as you begin to develop your puppet’s character.

Pick a short song or story to begin with. When you’re happy with your performance, you can try filming it to see how the audience sees the performance.


Develop your puppet’s voice and personality by reading a children’s book, fairy tale or a short story. You could have your puppet give a commentary on the story and the characters in the story, or place themselves into the story and tell the tale from a particular point of view.

Perform to Children

If you’re going to use your puppet for more than just entertaining yourself, you’ll probably want to prepare to stage a performance. Young children are often more than happy to watch a puppet show. This can be an opportunity to perfect your craft and even improvise in order to hold your audience’s attention. You could also answer questions that children pose to your puppet character.

To begin, you might like to try a one on one performance with a child and as you have more practice, perform for more children. When you feel confident with your act, you might like to take on a bigger challenge and perform at a children’s birthday party, camp or perform at your local library.

Puppeteer Friends

Making a friend might be as simple as putting a puppet on your other hand. If you have friends that love puppets, you might like to bring on other performers to widen the cast of your puppet show and to take the pressure of the performance off of you.

Host a Puppet Show

Now you’re ready to host your own puppet show. The type of puppet show and size of the audience are totally up to you. You can simply sit behind a couch or hand a string across the room with a blanket over it and perform a solo show for your family and close friends or you can make an elaborate production with a puppet theatre, cast of puppets, and detailed scene.

PuppetsSesame Street

The Best Puppets in Movies & TV Shows


Who doesn’t love puppets? Throughout the years puppet movies and television shows have enlightened and entertained, featuring memorable characters that offer positive messages through puppetry and storytelling to children. With the prevalence of CGI special effects in television and film production today, the art of puppetry and animatronics is becoming rarer. From Jim Henson’s cute and furry Muppet characters in Sesame Street; to sock puppet, Lamb Chop; and wooden marionette puppet with strings, Pinocchio; to hand puppet, Sooty; here’s some of our favourite puppets throughout pop culture history.

Sesame Street

Sesame Street is one of the most popular and longest running educational children’s television shows, featuring live-action, sketch comedy, animation and puppetry. Jim Henson’s Muppet characters are adored by children and instantly recognizable to generations of viewers, some of our favourites are Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Abby Cadabby, Zoe, Julia, Count von Count, Mr. Snuffleupagus, Bert and Ernie. Behind every memorable character is a human performer, a puppeteer tasked with juggling the technical demands of operating the puppet without losing the humour and heart that makes these furry loveable characters so memorable.


Pinocchio is an animated fantasy film produced by Disney. The story features an old Italian woodcarver named Geppetto who carves a wooden marionette puppet named Pinocchio. The puppet is brought to life by a blue fairy, who informs him that he can become a real boy if he proves himself to be ‘brave, truthful, and unselfish’. Pinocchio is led astray by con-artist fox Honest John and his henchcat Gideon the Cat, who convinces him to join Stromboli’s puppet show, despite Jiminy Cricket’s objections.

The Muppets

The Muppets are an ensemble cast of puppet characters created by Jim Henson in 1955. The Muppet characters feature Kermit the Frog; Miss Piggy; Fozzie Bear; Gonzo; Rowlf the Dog; Scooter; Rizzo the Rat; Pepe the King Prawn; Dr. Bunsen Honeydew; Beaker; Statler and Waldorf; the Swedish Chef; Sam Eagle; Camilla the Chicken; Walter; Dr. Teeth, Animal, Floyd Pepper, Janice, Zoot, and Lips. As well as The Muppet Show, the characters are popular for their appearances on Sesame Street, The Jim Henson Hour, Bear in the Big Blue House and more. Most of the Muppets are designed as hand puppets made from felt-like material and the performer holds the character above their head or in front of their body, with one hand operating the head and mouth and the other manipulating the hands and arms with invisible strings are used to manipulate these puppets.


ALF was a hit family sitcom, whose star of the show was a hand-operated puppet. The show premiered in 1990, following the suburban Tanner family and the extraterrestrial ALF, an ‘alien life form’ that crash landed into their home. ALF is short, brown, big-nosed furry alien that is obnoxious, highly confident, wisecracking couch potato who just wanted to have fun and eat the family’s cat. ALF was performed by puppeteer Paul Fusco.


Sooty is a mute yellow bear puppet with black ears and nose, who is kind-hearted but also cheeky, and performs magic tricks and practical jokes, and infamously squirts people with his iconic water pistol. The star of the children’s television series, The Sooty Show, was created in the 1950’s alongside his glove puppet friends, the dim-witted but good-natured dog, Sweep; and the sweet, shy, and responsible panda bear, Soo. The Sooty Show offered family-friendly entertainment for young children in a sketch-based format featuring comedy, music and stories, and additional sequels followed with Sooty & Co. and an educational series, Learn With Sooty.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is the story of young Elliot’s adventures with a visitor from outer space and is beloved around the world. E.T. is the star of the movie and this animatronic puppet was controlled by a team of puppeteers to create E.T.’s facial expressions with animatronics. The puppet was created in three months at the cost of $1.5 million.


Gizmo is an adorable, very kind Mogwai from the comedy horror film, Gremlins. Back in 1984 when the film was created there was no CGI, and the special effects relied mainly on puppetry. Gizmo and the Gremlin creatures were animatronic puppets, which consisted of small rubber puppets, some of which were mechanical, used to portray Gizmo and the gremlins. A few marionettes were also used. An enlarged Gizmo puppet was also used for the scene where Gizmo multiplies. The new mogwai that popped out of Gizmo’s body as small, furry balls that started to grow, were balloons and expanded.

Lamb Chop’s Play-Along

Lamb Chop is a sock puppet sheep that was created by puppeteer and ventriloquist Shari Lewis and starred in the preschool children’s television series, Lamb Chop’s Play-Along alongside puppet characters, Charlie Horse and Hush Puppy. In 1992 Lamb Chop’s Play-Along premiered, hosted by Shari Lewis and thrilled millions of children as they followed the adventures of an enthusiastic singing lady and her puppet animal friends.

Jurassic Park

Steven Spielberg’s, Jurassic Park used a number of hydraulically controlled animatronics, puppets, and elaborate costuming to create the prehistoric cast of dinosaurs, making them as realistic as possible. The Brachiosaurus was the first dinosaur encountered by the park’s visitors in the film and the dinosaur’s head and upper neck was the largest puppet without hydraulics built for the film, a seven and a half foot tall puppet. The Brachiosaurus was operated by six puppeteers, with someone puppeteering the eyes, someone on the tongue, another on the jaw movement and someone on the lips, another on the neck and another puppeteer working the head.

The Never Ending Story

The NeverEnding Story fantasy film was released in 1984 when puppetry and live models were more popular than CGI special effects. The fantastical characters were brought to life using practical special effects and puppetry. Each of the puppets required a team of puppeteers, who mastered intricate coordination prior to production. A team of about 25 puppeteers brought the magic of Falcor to life, with multiple people assigned to facial expressions alone – one puppeteer responsible for operating Falcor’s nose, another for eyebrows, and another for the upper lip and another for the lower lip.

Mr. Squiggle and Friends

Mr. Squiggle, the main character of the Australian children’s television series from the 1990’s, is a marionette puppet with a pencil for a nose. Children would write in with their ‘squiggles’ and Mr. Squiggle transformed them into recognisable drawings with his pencil nose. More often than not, the picture would be drawn upside down, and then Mr. Squiggle would gleefully declare, ‘Upside down! Upside down!’ and his assistant would turn the picture the right way up to reveal the completed drawing. Mr. Squiggle was accompanied by other puppet characters featuring, the grumpy Blackboard that Mr. Squiggle uses for an easel, Gus the Snail and Bill the Steam Shovel.

Tell us your favourite puppet movies and television shows in the comments below.


Watch the Most Entertaining Ventriloquist Performances


Ventriloquism is an entertaining form of art where the ventriloquist is accompanied by a puppet on stage and creates the illusion that their voice is coming from elsewhere. The ventriloquist’s puppet is operated by the ventriloquist performer’s hand, and with little or no movement from the performer’s mouth, the ventriloquist creates the illusion that the puppet has come to life. Some of the most enjoyable performances from ventriloquists are from comedian Jeff Dunham, accompanied by the ‘little guys in his suitcase’, and singer Darci Lynne, alongside her puppets, Petunia the bunny rabbit and Oscar the Motown mouse.

Darci Lynne

Darci Lynne is an American ventriloquist and singer that has captured the hearts with her sweet character and incredible talent. Darci first appeared on Little Big Shots in 2016, but gained recognition globally for her ventriloquist and singing talent when she won the twelfth season of America’s Got Talent as the youngest contestant to win the talent show at only 12 years old. Darci’s puppets feature the sweet funny bunny rabbit, Petunia; the Motown mouse puppet, Oscar; and the naughty old-lady, Edna Doorknocker. Following her stint on America’s Got Talent, Darci has made numerous appearances on television and held several tours with her adorable puppet characters.

Jeff Dunham

Jeff Dunham is an American ventriloquist and stand-up comedian that has done more to promote the art of ventriloquism than anyone since Edgar Bergen. Jeff is one of the most popular ventriloquists and has toured for many years, starred in his own series, The Jeff Dunham Show, and appeared on numerous television shows including Late Show with David Letterman, Comedy Central Presents, and The Tonight Show. Jeff Dunham is accompanied by his puppets, Walter, a grumpy old man; Peanut, a cute purple-skinned woozle; José Jalapeño on a Stick, a talking jalapeño pepper; Bubba J, a beer-drinking redneck; and Achmed the Dead Terrorist, a skeletal corpse.

Terry Fator

Terry Fator is an American ventriloquist, impressionist, stand-up comedian, and singer and became nationally recognised when he won the second season of America’s Got Talent, leading to headlining his own Las Vegas show. Terry’s cast of puppet characters features Winston, the Impersonating Turtle; Emma Taylor, ‘the little girl with the big voice’; Maynard Thompkins, the Elvis Impersonator; Duggie Scott Walker, the annoying neighbor, and; a host of famous singers, past and present.

Paul Zerdin

Paul Zerdin is a British comedian and ventriloquist and winner of the tenth season of America’s Got Talent. Paul has performed all over the world with his hilarious puppet friends feature, Sam, Baby and Albert.

David Strassman

David Strassman is an American ventriloquist and stand-up comedian and is best known for his ventriloquism act with his wooden ventriloquist puppet, Chuck Wood, and soft teddy bear hand puppet, Ted E. Bare.


The Best Children’s Books About Puppets


Puppets are not just a fun toy for children to play with, but can engage, entertain and educate too.

Sharing a story with a treasured puppet, doll or favourite stuffed animal can help to encourage your child’s reading and develop communication and vocabulary skills. A much loved puppet or soft toy could be the perfect learning companion for children to practice their reading and storytelling skills. And if your child has an interest in puppets, then children’s books that feature a puppet theme are the perfect choice to entertain kids.

Puppets can tell stories and make a book come to life. A puppet is a great tool to assist in teaching and capturing children’s attention to help them focus on the story.

We’ve compiled a selection of some our favorite puppetry themed story books for children. Children can experience story time together with their favourite puppets and take them along on their imaginative adventures as they turn the pages of these puppet theme children’s books.

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade

Written by Melissa Sweet

Everyone’s a New Yorker on Thanksgiving Day, when young and old rise early to see what giant new balloons will fill the skies for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Who first invented these “upside-down puppets”? Meet Tony Sarg, puppeteer extraordinaire! In brilliant collage illustrations, the award-winning artist Melissa Sweet tells the story of the puppeteer Tony Sarg, capturing his genius, his dedication, his zest for play, and his long-lasting gift to America—the inspired helium balloons that would become the trademark of Macy’s Parade.

I am Jim Henson

Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets and Sesame Street, is the 11th hero in the New York Times bestselling picture book biography series for ages 5 to 8.

Jim Henson, was always dreaming up something new, and always expressing his belief in the goodness of people. Henson was a born performer with a terrific sense of humor, and he used those talents to help create two of the most beloved programs in television history: The Muppet Show and Sesame Street. Through his Muppets, Jim showed the world that there’s nothing more beautiful than imagination, especially when it’s accompanied by laughter and kindness.

Peter Rabbit Finger Puppet Book

Written by Beatrix Potter

A much-loved Peter Rabbit finger puppet book, this beautiful counting book with a soft finger puppet of Peter Rabbit will really brings Peter to life. The Peter Rabbit puppet is cleverly stitched into the book so it can’t get lost, and is integral to every page! A great fun read to share with very young children.

Baby Koala: Finger Puppet Book

Written by Chronicle Books and illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang

What is Baby Koala’s favorite snack? Follow along with this cute baby animal as it experiences its world, from playtime to bedtime. The simple, comforting stories in this go-to baby gift series have made it a multimillion seller. Featuring a permanently attached plush koala finger puppet, each volume offers parents and children a fun, interactive way to play and read as they build a lifelong love of books together.

Punch in New York

Written by Alice Provensen and illustrated by Martin Provensen

When Professore Tucci-Piccini, a the famous puppeteer, arrives in New York with the cast of his illustrious Punch and Judy show, a thief cuts into the act even before the curtain rises, and makes off with Mr. Punch, the star of the show. However, the plucky puppet manages to escape and rejoin Judy and the rest of the troupe for Sunday performances in Central Park.

Gigantosaurus: Roar, Giganto, Roar!: A Puppet Book

Written and illustrated by Cyber Group Studios

Dinosaurs are experts at roaring, and Rocky, Tiny, Mazu, and Bill are eager to have a contest to see who can roar the best. But they need another participant to round out the contest, and fierce Giganto is asleep! Can the dinos wake him up and make him roar? Little readers are invited to get into the act with the help of an attached Giganto dinosaur puppet that pokes through the scenes helping him snore, chew, chomp a favorite snack, and even dance when Tiny sings. But what they’re really after is much louder than that!

Hand Puppet Fun: Unicorn

Written and illustrated by Igloo Books

Step into the enchanting world of unicorns and magic! Help grant wishes and meet some cute fairy friends along the way, in this beautiful puppet book.


Written by Carlo Collodi and illustrated by Quentin Greban

Perhaps the most popular and beloved children’s story of all time, Pinocchio tells the story of a wooden puppet that longs to become a real boy.

Teeny-Tiny Mermaid Finger Puppet Board Book

Written by Brick Puffinton and illustrated by Joanie Stone

Explore the wondrous teeny-tiny underwater world of a sweet, teeny-tiny mermaid who lives in a teeny-tiny castle with her teeny-tiny friend! Life in the teeny-tiny sea is full of big adventures filled with teeny-tiny beautiful treasures to be found! This interactive aquatic adventure features a bright, iridescent mermaid tail puppet toy built into the book perfect for flipping through every page while encouraging interactive play, hand-eye coordination, sensory and language development. Babies and toddlers learn best when they are playing, especially when their grown-ups are in on the fun!

Baby Dragon: Finger Puppet Book

Written by Chronicle Books and illustrated by Victoria Ying

Meet Baby Dragon! Where does Baby Dragon live? Is he finally ready to fly? Follow along as he explores his world and discovers his special powers! The simple, comforting stories in this go-to baby gift series have made it a multimillion seller. Featuring a permanently attached plush finger puppet, each volume offers parents and children a fun, interactive way to play and read as they build a lifelong love of books together.

Baby Kitten: Finger Puppet Book

Written by Chronicle Books and illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang

Bursting with color and charm, this baby kitten finger puppet book lets babies and inquisitive toddlers touch, feel, and explore their growing world.

Newborns will love snuggling up with Baby Kitten! Baby Kitten wakes up, purrs with mama, plays, climbs, meets a butterfly, and drifts off to bedtime with his brother and sister. Featuring a plush cat finger puppet that peeks into each lovingly illustrated page, Baby Kitten will delight infants and parents alike.

Little Puppy: Finger Puppet Book

Written by Chronicle Books and ImageBooks, illustrated by Klaatje Van Der Put and designed by Meagan Bennett

With a plush puppy dog finger puppet permanently attached to the book and peek-a-boo holes in every page, this charming board book is a fun way for parents and children to play and read together.