Paper Cup Puppets

Turn that cup downside up! This piece-of-cake puppet brings your child’s hand-eye coordination and originality to life with just 2 materials.


If you choose to work with glue, it can be messy. So, prepare your area, your preschooler and yourself. You can get activity prep tips right here in our FAQ.

MATERIALS - click to buy
  1. Small-sized, 9-ounce (265 ml) white paper cups like these on - White cups work best, but other light colors such as pastels are fine, too. In a pinch, styrofoam cups will do. But remember that crayons will not work on a styrofoam surface.
  2. Big, washable, preschool-friendly markers found here. Or, large-sized crayons work well too! 
  3. Optional - Scraps of yarn, construction paper, fabric, trim, or even cotton balls!
  4. Optional - Quick-drying glue. We find that Aleene’s Tacky Glue works best for this activity.
  5. Optional - Popsicle or craft sticks to spread your glue
  6. Optional - Small container for glue. Recycled yogurt cups or small, 8-ounce containers like these with lids work well.
  7. Optional - Pipe cleaners, also known as Chenille Wires like these
  8. Optional - Scissors, for adults to poke holes for pipe cleaners
  1. Skilly Spark: So, what do we use these cups for? What shapes can you see on them? Do you think a cup would fit on your hand, maybe one cup fits on each hand? Well, try it on. Now, let’s create a puppet out of that cup! Would it be an animal or a person? What kind of puppet you’d like to make? Ok, let’s make them together!
  2. Give your child a cup and turn it upside down.
  3. Using markers or crayons, ask your child to draw a face on the cup. They can hold the cup in place with one hand and draw with the other. Or, they can put the cup on their hand and draw with the other, whichever works best for them. The markers will take a few seconds to dry. If the markers get a bit smudgy, adults can easily wipe those smudges away with a finger.
  4. If you’ve chosen to use scraps of paper and fabric in addition to -or- instead of drawing materials, your child can glue them on to create eyes, eyebrows, a nose, and a mouth.
  5. Adults, poke holes where your child says they should be. Then, stick in pipe cleaners for a person-puppet’s arms or for animal legs, ears or even horns!
  6. If your child feels they want to make their puppet even more complete, continue adding fun details such as yarn for hair or more pieces of fabric to make clothes.
  7. Now give it a few minutes to dry … And let’s put our puppets on our hands again and get to playing!
Keep the fun going
  • It’s a family affair! Design a cup puppet for each member of your unique family.
  • Does your cup puppet have a story to tell? Ask your preschooler to tell you about their puppet-friend's story and to act it out as they share it with you.
  • Throw a preschool puppet making & listening party. Let each little one take a turn to tell all about their special puppet-friend.

Inspiration/thanks goes to Ardman Animation and Shaun the Sheep's infamous football game.