Designing a Marionette

Brief Description: Students will engineer their own marionette puppets.


  • Students with experience the iterative engineering design process through making a marionette

Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8

Time: 1 hour


  • Paper clips
  • Mardi gras bead necklaces
  • Pom poms
  • Felt
  • Cotton balls
  • Googly eyes
  • Construction paper
  • Popsicle sticks
  • String
  • Washers

Lesson Plan

  1. How does a marionette work?
    • Marionette or string puppet is a puppet/figure that is manipulated from above by strings or threads. In a simple marionette, the strings are attached in four places: to head, butt/back, and feet. By adding strings, more sensitive control of movement is achieved.
  2. How to make the handle
    • Using popsicle sticks, create a cross. Additional crosses can be created to add additional movement.
  3. When creating the body/figure parts, think about materials used, and the attachments.
    • If creating a goofy bird (like the example), you want to choose a neck/leg pieces that move freely like paperclip chains and beads. If you want it to be more stable and bend only at the knee, for example, you will want to use a material will less movement.
    • How do you want your marionette to move? What pieces do you want to move? Where should you attach the strings to make it move like that?
    • Much of the iterative process will occur when trying to figure out how to articulate their marionettes. Students make need to weight parts of their puppet to successfully move it how they would like it to.
    • Allow students to research how marionettes work to figure out where attachments should be made.


Additional Resources

Tufts Student Teacher Outreach Mentorship Program • 200 Boston Ave. • Suite G810 • Medford, MA • 617-627-5888

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