by sheilamarie

A marionette brings lifelike movements to the puppet theatre stage. Marionettes, or string puppets, charm the audience with the magic of story.

Do you remember Pinocchio from your childhood? A little puppet wanting to be a real boy really touched my heart.

Somehow the movement of a marionette across a stage evoked the sense of imagination wanting to burst into life.

Marionettes can do that for your children, too. Come with me to discover the magic and imagination that a marionette can bring.

Marionettes Make Stories Come Alive

A Marionette Makes a Fun Christmas Gift Idea

Do you remember watching marionettes when you were a child? While watching a puppet show, the marionettes seemed curiously alive, transporting you to a world where magic really did exist and anything was possible.

Fantasy helps a child look at problems and mysteries in a way that is more easily processed. Talking to a child about the importance of telling the truth, for example, though important in itself, is taken to heart better when placed in the context of story.  

Pinocchio's growing nose is an image we all, at least in Western countries, have tucked somewhere in the backs of our minds.

And sharing is an easier lesson to learn when puppets and marionettes act out what happens when people don't learn to share. 

On this page, I have brought together many different marionettes for which you may find a home. They are fun for the classroom or for family gatherings. Marionettes are useful for telling stories in a library setting or in Sunday schools and playgroups. 

Maybe you'll find some marionettes here that will work for you! 

Pinocchio Marionette

from Inexpensive Marionette to Collector Pinocchio Marionette
Pinocchio Wooden MarionetteWalt Disney Pinocchio Marionette Hand...

Animal Marionettes

Fun to Use with Folk Tales

Any of the animal marionettes below would be a great beginning to a folk tale in which animals take a leading role. With a whole world of stories from which to choose, there's sure to be one or two animal tales that will delight your audience.

Part of the fun of storytelling is in exploring the world's folk tales and choosing one that moves you. When a story moves the storyteller, then he or she can tell that story in a way that moves the audience.

If that storyteller is also a puppeteer -- look out, world!

Some of the stories I think of when looking at these animals are:

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

The Three Little Pigs

Some of the Indian folk tales for the monkey

The Three Kings for the camel

Any number of dog stories for the shaggy dog


Which stories come to your mind?


What Is a Marionette?

Discover the History and Modern Day Uses of Marionettes
A marionette is a puppet controlled from above using wires or strings depending on regional variations. A marionette's puppeteer is called a manipulator. Marionettes are operated with the puppeteer hidden or revealed to an audience by ...

Which is your favorite puppet?

Little Red Riding Hood Marionettes

Tell This Fairy Tale with Marionette Puppets
Madame Alexander Wendy with Tony Sarg Marionettes Limited...

This Madame Alexander Doll Loves Puppet Shows

I originally included some Little Red Riding Hood marionettes on this page, but they are no longer available. In looking for replacements, I came across this Madame Alexander doll who is putting on her own puppet show. I thought it was cute, so I've added it here for you to look at.

This is a limited edition doll.

Fairy Tales and Marionettes

Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood will come alive for your child with these fairy tale marionettes. The Big Bad Wolf can be reused for telling other tales as well, such as the Three Little Pigs, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and many other folk tales and fairy tales. 

As the list of marionette in the animal marionette list includes a pig, you can create your own combination of marionette pig and wolf puppets to tell the Three Little Pig story.

Adding one boy puppet and a couple of townspeople and you can perform The Boy Who Cried Wolf, too.

Can you think of any other tales you can tell using the puppets on this page? Please add your story ideas to the comment section below. 

Backdrops for Your Puppet Show

Marionettes Against a Homemade Background

It’s amazing what a change in backdrop can do to transform one character into another. Children often enjoy helping with the creation of colorful backdrops. 

By drawing large trees, the audience is immediately transported into the forest.

A few waves and seagulls, and they are on the high seas. 

Simple large shapes work best and, of course, bright colors. These are seen from a distance -- important if your audience needs to see the stage from several feet away.

You can add nursery rhymes and children’s songs to your puppet shows as well. Some generic boy and girl marionettes can be used in a variety of tales. You can add props or a little extra fabric to change the character of your marionette. 

Making Your Own Marionettes

Study First How a Marionette Moves

Sometimes I have studied a professionally made marionette to see where and how the strings are attached to create the effective movements. If you have even one commercially made marionette, you can create a few homemade marionettes, too, using a head and some colorful fabrics. 

You could reuse an old doll head as beginning to making your own marionette. Or you can make your own head with papier mache or a styrofoam ball.

Marionettes are easier to make than a doll because you don’t have to worry about stuffing and other details. Getting the movements right is more important than having highly detailed costumes. As a result, your marionette’s clothes can be made from cast-off clothing or from any fabric you choose.

Although some people are content to use any old string for their marionettes, I think the best thing to use is clear, see-through nylon string. Fishing line is a good choice because it’s inexpensive, transparent, and strong enough to last a long time.

Another important element in making your marionette is having the right feet or shoes for your puppet. Balsa wood or recycled plastic lids are good choices, as they are both light weight, yet they make a noise like footsteps if you tap them on the stage. Whether or not the marionette’s footsteps make a noise is under your control. You only need to vary how hard they hit the stage.

Practicing making movements using your marionette is the key to whether or not your puppet show will be a success. The more you practice, the better you will be at getting the marionette to have a life of its own. 

Start with the basic movements -- walking, waving, etc.-- and then add the more subtle movements -- dancing, scratching the nose, expressive tilts of the head. 

In no time, even you as the puppeteer will be fooled into thinking your marionette is a separate little person. 

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About Puppets
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Learning How to Make Puppets is fun & easy to do. If you have children you can teach them how to make puppets, too. Learn about the variety of puppets you can learn how to make.
Rod puppets are amazingly versatile and life-like! They are used in story telling and in puppet shows. But what is a rod puppet? Find out how to make a rod puppet on this page.
Updated: 12/10/2014, sheilamarie
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Please Leave a Comment. Are You a Fan of Marionettes? What Folk Tales and Other Stories Did I Miss?

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sheilamarie on 03/22/2012

Thanks, Lou and Kajohu! The magic lives on.

lou16 on 12/08/2011

This has brought back lots of memories for me, I can remember when I was young I had a beautiful gypsy marionette who still lived in her original box and was probably the toy I took the most care of. Unfortunately when I moved halfway around the world it got lost, but you're right about marionettes bringing magic into childhood.

kajohu on 12/05/2011

I remember thinking marionettes were quite magical when I was a kid. My parents gave me a clown marionette for Christmas one year, and it was one of my treasured toys. The ones you featured look like a lot of fun.

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