Accordion Critters Puppet Theatre


Using the Accordion Critters as puppets can be great fun! Students will already be tempted to take their critters around the classroom to let the accordion-folded legs fly through the air. Take these spontaneous creative activities to center stage with a puppet theatre play.

Age: 6+

Duration: 20-30 minutes (plus drying times)

Learning Objectives: Use fine motor skills while assembling your Accordion Critters. Learn to fold paper. Create puppet theater performances with constructed puppet theatre. Use puppets in literacy projects.


You’ll Need:



Children can exercise some of their roleplaying skills while exploring literacy. Start with the separate pile of paper strips. The paper strip colors coordinate with the color of the critters’ body. Accordion fold the strips or combine with other colors to make interesting
braid patterns.


Fold the strips forward then backward and continue all the way the length of the strip.


When you are all done, you’re ready to attach the legs onto the Accordion Critter body!


Roll the Accordion Critter into a tube shape and secure with tape. Tape the legs onto the leg indicators around the body shape.


Hang your Accordion Critter by popping out the little holes on either side of its body and attaching some string.


To make your own fun puppet theater, save an extra-large cardboard box from a recent purchase.


Cut vertically across the small flaps to separate the box into one rectangle strip of


Fold each large flap inside the box so that they meet at the back. These will form the side supports to hold up the puppet theater. Next, draw a simple double curtain shape in the center of the puppet theater.


You will need to cut out the inside of it to allow your performers to stand behind the puppet theater. Alternatively, you can black out the center to appear like the back of the stage.


Paint the curtains red or blue and add a gold line to represent the curtain tie and tassels.


Add a few black vertical lines to show the folds in the curtain appearance. Instead of drawing on the gold ribbon and tassels, I attached small lengths of gold ribbon to each side of the curtain line.


Leave the paint to dry overnight. You can set the makeshift puppet theater onto a desk and secure the sides with tape or place on top of an ironing board to make it easily adjustable for different heights. Students can stand behind the puppet theater and drape their accordion puppets in front or use the puppet theater simply as a backdrop. Get students to focus on the action of making their Accordion Critters move about, with the accordion legs bouncing up and off the ground. Add some fun, lively music and watch your students’ imaginations come to life!


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Accordion Critters


Bounce around with R10300 Accordion Critters! Use the full color animal projects to teach children how to fold paper accordion style—an essential exercise for developing fine motor skills.

Paste the finished accordion-folded legs onto the cute animal characters and string them up to use as puppets! Encourage creative thinking with dramatic play, literacy, basic lessons in biology and physical education.


The Accordion Critters are printed in full color and simply need to be popped out of the paper backing. There are 12 different kinds of animals. Pick a cat, dog, snake, frog, elephant, pig, spider, octopus, monkey, sheep, flamingo or giraffe. Each animal has different indications for where the paper strips go.

Before assembling the animals, exercise your students’ understanding by asking how many legs each animal has. They can use the markers on the animal bodies to determine how many legs are required, or they can guess. Not all of the animals in the pack have the same number of legs. In fact, the animals with the most legs are the octopus and spider! Give the octopus and spider to older students, or partner two students together to complete these animals.


Start with the separate pile of paper strips. The paper strip colors coordinate with the color of the critters’ body. Accordion fold the strips or combine with other colors to make interesting braid patterns. Note: We suggest that younger students use the basic accordion
folding technique to make their Accordion Critter legs. Older students can exercise fine motor skills while adding a new paper folding technique to their repertoire!
To accordion fold the legs, start at the top. Fold the edge of the paper strip down about 1” (2 cm) then flip the strip to the opposite side and fold down 1” (2 cm) again. Continue doing this all the way down the length of the paper strip.


To braid the strips, place one paper strip face down on a flat surface. Place a second paper strip on top of the previous strip, of a 90° angle to the top edge. Flip the second paper strip so that it faces upwards. Tape the two strips together. Fold the bottom paper strip up and over the top strip so that it goes in the opposite direction. Repeat for the second paper strip. Continue folding the paper strips up and over each other all the way to the end. At the very end of the braid, tape the ends together to secure the entire braid. If you braid two different colors, you’ll notice that the colors alternate throughout
the braid.


Lay the Accordion Critter on a flat surface and attach the legs onto the leg base with tape. Hold the Accordion Critter up at its sides. Notice the two side edges are flat and line up when you curve the body. Join the two sides together to make the Accordion Critter body curl into a cylinder. Secure with tape. Add tongues to the frog and snake. You can curl or accordion-fold the tongue.


To finish the Accordion Critter, cut a length of string to hang the Critter. Tie the ends of the string onto the pre-punched holes at the sides of the Accordion Critter. Children can grasp the middle of the string to hold the Accordion Critter up like a puppet. You can additionally hang the Critter off a ledge or from the ceiling using a hook or piece of tape. Accordion Critters are fun to play with! Exercise both fine and gross motor skills with paper folding and with puppetry!


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Craft Spotlight: My Very Own Puppet Theatre


Play and perform with your personalized puppet theatre! The projects are die-cut to look like theatre curtains and come with two puppet cutouts to decorate and use as characters in your very own play!

R39201 My Very Own Puppet Theatre projects are each hole-punched on either side so they can be threaded with string and worn like a great big necklace.

IMG_7717First pop out the puppet theatre from the backing. Color in the theatre with bright marker colors, like red or purple! Color in the puppet characters as well. The characters are cut with a handle so they are easy for kids to hold.


One of our art campers came up with an idea to make her own puppet character. She used card to cut out a fish shape, colored it in, then attached it to one of our Goo Spreaders! Your students can experiment with different ideas like this.


Kids can wear the puppet theatre and perform puppet plays anywhere! Read the Puppet Theatre full web guide here to discover curriculum connections and great activities for the classroom.


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