Animal Puppets

Purchase Jump at the Sun by Alicia D. Williams at Bookmarks.

From the Newbery Honor–winning author of Genesis Begins Again comes a shimmering picture book that shines the light on Zora Neale Hurston, the extraordinary writer and storycatcher extraordinaire who changed the face of American literature.

Zora was a girl who hankered for tales like bees for honey. Now, her mama always told her that if she wanted something, “to jump at de sun”, because even though you might not land quite that high, at least you’d get off the ground. So Zora jumped from place to place, from the porch of the general store where she listened to folktales, to Howard University, to Harlem. And everywhere she jumped, she shined sunlight on the tales most people hadn’t been bothered to listen to until Zora. The tales no one had written down until Zora. Tales on a whole culture of literature overlooked…until Zora. Until Zora jumped.

Zora Neale Hurston created dolls from scraps and objects she found around the house. She used the dolls to tell the marvelous stories she had to tell. Let’s make our own cast of characters to spark our imaginations! Once you’ve created your puppets, let them inspire you to weave your own tales – and even put on a puppet show for friends and family to share your stories!


  • optional: printed animal templates (download pdf)
  • white cardstock
  • pencil
  • eraser
  • ultra thin permanent black marker
  • markers
  • colored pencils or markers
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • metal brads
  • straws


click images for larger view

  • Sketch the animal parts. Heads, bodies, arms, legs, and tails. 
  • Optional: print animal puppet templates. Templates have an assortment of animal body parts you can pick and choose from to create animals. For body parts, you can print several sheets, or print one set and cut the body parts out to use as traceable templates. 
  • Trace over sketches with a permanent marker.
  • Erase any pencil lines.
  • Color the animal body parts with markers or colored pencils. Have fun with the colors! Add fur and wing details with darker colors. 
  • Cut out.
  • Use a hole punch to punch holes for the arms and legs.
  • Place a metal brad through the holes to attach the arms and legs. Now they will move!
  • Glue the heads and tails on the body.
  • Tape a straw to the back of the puppet.
  • Now you have your own cast of characters you can create your stories with, just like Zora Neale Hurston.


  • If you don’t have metal brads, you can glue the arms and legs on.
  • If you don’t have straws, you can use wooden skewers, popsicle sticks, small wooden dowels, or even a stick!
  • Choose characters other than animals to create!
  • You don’t have to have ANY of these materials to create puppets! You can be inspired by Zora Neale Hurston, and find objects around your home to create puppets. Just be sure to ask an adult before you turn anything you find in to a puppet.



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