Thursday, 2 April 2020

A fingerful of animals

A Fingerful of Animals
making a fingerpuppet garden of creatures 

As the spring unfolds and we can’t get out and play as much as we might like….why not make a handful of animals to infest your garden with or set up strange ecosystems in a bedroom

You will need:
  • A sheet of card (mostly A5 (about 15cm x 20cm) will do, some puppets might need A4 (about 20cm x 30 cm) small insects could work on A6 (15cm x 10cm) Cereal packet card works well instead
  • Sharp scissors
  • Pencil
  • Coloured pencils or felt pens
  • Small stapler
  • Glue stick

Useful techniques
Before we deal with the main activity, you might like to experiment with
·      fold - keep the crease sharp
·      fold-back – practise folding a strip of card in half then folding it back on itself to make a sort of folded zig-zag: good for necks and arthropod legs
·      curl – draw a thin strip of card between your thumb and the hard edge of say a ruler or the back of scissors
·      internal cuts: sharp scissors or a knife to cut a V in your card: lift this to make spikes or feathers

Start making
1. As folded shapes, this activity works best for symmetrical animals - snails and wriggly ones (worms, centipedes) are probably better just drawn and cut out – then jump to stage 6

2. Think about your animal and fold your card in half- which way depends on the length of your animal

3. Use the fold as the middle or backbone of your animal and draw one half of it on the card: keep the drawing as large as you can while still fitting on the card. Keep the shape simple and keep limbs thick (you’ll need to cut them out)

4. Cut through both sides of the card (AND NOT ALONG THE FOLD!)

5. Open out. We hope you have an animal! Draw in the detail on the other side of the body. Colour or decorate the whole creature

6. Scrap (or extra card) gave a finger strip: 1cm wide and about 10cm long: roll into a ring, staple then staple into the underside of the fold

Extra touches:
Scrap card: thin strips were curled gave us antennae on the crayfish

People: you can make a few human-type puppets in just the same way. This fine fellow uses my fingers as legs. If you don’t want animals you could always make a football team for your family (5-a-sides maybe?)

Necks, ears and antlers:
If you draw a neck at least twice as long as it should be, that will give you card to fold-back and make your animal more animated – look at the mouse and the swan

Ears and antlers: draw these in even if the angle feels odd, cut out and then fold up – see the deer

As a group:
You could plan your animals together and make a food chain, adding some scenery on a table top and acting out “the adventures of a mouse”, or “the hungry fox”, or “the watchful owl”…..

Our puppets
We drew our puppets with thick black pen so they would show up as we worked. If you work in pencil, it is easier to make changes if a line goes wrong!
Crayfish: not very common but a useful animal for showing lots of different techniques
Mouse: this method gives you a mouse with 2 tails! Trim one carefully to give your mouse a neat bottom! Look at the folded ears and fold-back on the neck
Deer: look at the fold-back neck and fold-up antlers
Swan: as a simple flying bird shape, this is a quick animal to make and the same idea would work well with other birds, bats, butterflies and bees. A swimming swan takes the same shape and folds it a bit. A flying bat can have its wings folded back on themselves to give someone sleepier. Try for yourself

 An earlier version of this activity was 
published by Wildlife Watch in 2017

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