Make your own finger puppets

July 14, 2010

When my Youth Services class visited the Greenwood (IN) Public Library in February, one of the things assistant children’s services department head Anne Guthrie mentioned in passing was that you could make your own finger puppets by cutting open a small stuffed toy and sewing in the fingertip of a glove. I loved the DIY aspect of this and was struck by how easy and clever it was, so when we had to do an assignment that required us to plan a library program in detail (like, fifteen-page-writeup level detail!), I outlined a preschool storytime with a “tails” theme and created mice finger puppets that could be used as manipulatives during a recitation of “Three Blind Mice” using Anne’s method.

They took me longer to make than I was expecting, but I think that was mostly due to lack of experience not only with making finger puppets like this but with sewing in general. Even for a domestic arts pro, though, it’d be tough to whip up a batch of 30 the night before a program. If your library has a strong volunteer group, especially including people with sewing experience, this could be a good project to farm out to them.

Blind Mice Finger Puppets
Materials: stuffed mice (I used cat toys from a local pet store), an old glove, fabric scraps for tails, a little bit of sew-on velcro, a seam ripper, needle, thread, and scissors

A close-up photograph of a mouse-shaped cat toy. The toy is made of fuzzy pink fabric and has a long blue tail.

Mouse #1, pre-surgery

1. Using a seam ripper and scissors, cut a finger-sized hole in the bottom of the mouse. Pull out a fingertip-sized chunk of stuffing (and maybe catnip), but make sure to leave in enough stuffing for the toy to keep its shape.

A photograph of a gutted mouse-shaped cat toy. The toy is purple; beside it is a pile of pink stuffing with a sprinkling of catnip mixed in.

This mouse's seam was reinforced with glue, hence the gross ragged edges around the edge of the fabric

2. Cut a fingertip off of an old glove. It helps to put on the glove, put your finger into the toy, and then mark around the bottom of the toy so you know how much to cut off. More tightly-fitting gloves work better than loose ones, and if you plan to have children use these as manipulatives, be sure to plan for little fingers.

A photograph of a hand inside a black cloth glove. The tip of the index finger of the glove is completely gone and the tip of the middle finger is cut off but still on the person's fingertip.

Reminds me of my marching band days

3. Insert the glove fingertip into the toy and sew around the edges. A whipstitch is easy, but if you’re not using a thread color that blends in, it makes the fingerpuppet look a little like Frankenstein’s monster. I also recommend choosing toys made of a forgiving fabric; the knit mouse in my collection really showed off every mistake in cutting and stitching.

A photograph of a surgically-altered mouse-shaped cat toy. The blue toy lies on its side with its belly toward the camera, showing that a glove fingertip has been sewn into the toy to create a finger puppet.

Post-surgery Frankenmouse

4. To create detachable tails, fold a rectangular bit of fabric in half (or in quarters with the raw edges on the inside) and sew the sides together. Then fold over a bit of the end of the tail and sew it down to create an elongated t-shape. Cut a piece of velcro to size, cut off the mouse’s original tail (if it has one), and sew the velcro onto the new tail and the mouse’s behind.

A photograph of a mouse finger puppet made from a cat toy. The mouse has a detachable tail made out of scrap fabric and attached with velcro.

Removable tail--no carving knife necessary!

5. Repeat as many times as necessary to create your own nest/colony/harvest/horde/mischief of finger puppet mice.

A photograph of three mice finger puppets on a hand. The mice are each a different color, one purple, one blue, and one pink. They have detachable tails and beady black eyes.

My mischief of mice earned me an A!

While the storytime I planned was tail-themed, these could be reused for a more general animal storytime, a pets storytime (although the detachable tails are a little sad in that case!), or a nursery rhyme-themed program. They’re not too hard, especially once you’ve gotten a little practice, and they’re pretty cheap, too.

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1 Comment Leave a Comment

  • 1. Spine Label - Links to Lo&hellip  |  July 23, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    […] Gretchen of Librarified has a tutorial up for making your own finger puppets for story time. […]

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