Friday, March 9, 2012

Finger Puppets Or How I Do "Five Little Monkeys"

Lately I've been trying to come up with program ideas that tie in with the summer reading theme of Dream Big - Read!  I plan to do an evening pajama story time.  If I do stories about bedtime then I'll be doing "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed."  This will give me a chance to use my new "old favorite," the Monkey Mitt.  When I use the mitt the little monkeys get do a lot of bouncing up and down.

Early in my career as a children's librarian I came across the Monkey Mitt and its assorted pom pom puppets.  I went through three mitts in the fifteen years I was in my previous position (the mitts would lose their "furriness" from frequent use).  The puppets stood up surprisingly well over that same period with only a few glue repairs needed.  I had a core group of rhymes that I used over and over.  Children paid attention when I put on that big fuzzy mitt.

Since I don't regularly work with younger children, I haven't had much need to use a Monkey Mitt but recently I decided to get one "just in case."   I just might not wait until summer to use it.  After all I have a couple of two-year-olds who regularly come to Family Story Time.

Because I like to use multiple ways of presenting material in a single program, I usually have a finger puppet rhyme when I do a toddler or preschool program.  I particularly like to use finger puppets when doing counting rhymes.  Often children will hold up their own fingers and follow along.

Finger puppets can be made from felt and even knitted.  Many sets are commercially available, including some lovely animal ones from Folkmanis.  However, simple ones can be made using paper.  I have several paper sets with rhymes that I made years ago using the book, Mitt Magic by Lynda Roberts.  Before I started doing a craft at the end of a program, I would send the children home with an activity sheet that the child and caregiver could do together.  Often I would give out a sheet with the rhyme I had used that day with the finger puppets to color and make.  Paper finger puppets can easily be made to go with a rhyme.  They don't have to be fancy.  In fact simple is better for they need to be easily seen. 

"Two Little Blackbirds" is a rhyme that can be done with just fingers.  I always have the children participate since it is such a simple rhyme.  I like to point out that they will always have their "puppets" with them and can do the rhyme any time they want to do it.

Finger puppets make a great visual accompaniment to a story time rhyme.  The basic set is always available at no cost.  Other sets range from simple paper ones to beautifully designed figures and animals.  Because they take up little space they travel well.  My original Monkey Mitt sets traveled with me to numerous preschools and elementary schools throughout the years.

Finger puppets:
Purchased puppets have great details.

Semi-homemade puppets are quick and easy.
The bugs are felt stickers.
The giraffe was made from animal print felt.

The duck is from
The kittens and dog are from a set I did years ago to go with a rhyme.
I have the dog turned over to show how they are made.
I show how to make paper finger puppets here.

Some day I will knit one of these:

Consider using finger puppets instead of the flannel board, especially when doing counting rhymes.   Not only does it add variety to a program but it's fun. 

(Busy librarian tip:  One thing I like about using finger puppets is that I can have a copy of the rhyme next to the puppets I am adding or removing so I can discretely look down to read the rhyme as I move the puppets - no memorization required.)

(Craft tip:  Children enjoy making finger puppets. Although the ones that sit on top of the finger are fun, children particularly enjoy the ones with the holes so their fingers can be part of the puppet.  Enchanted Learning has some examples.)

(Note:  I am hosting this week's Flannel Friday Round-Up which can be found here.)


  1. Linda, Thank you so much for this post! I have a monkey furry glove and have not been able to use it (hurts my hand - arthritis) But the white cotton glove with the bug felt stickers is going to work for me. And what a cute giraffe.

  2. Thank you "Fussy Hen." I'm glad that the glove idea is useful. I got a pair for $1.47 when I was at Joann Fabrics. Years ago at my previous job I had some preprinted felt sets that came with a white glove. I always thought that it would be easy to make my own glove - just add velcro. Using the felt stickers makes it even easier.

  3. Great post, Linda!

    I love using my "fuzzy" glove but we also have a store-bought blue glove that allows you to place a felt piece anywhere on your hand, i.e. five frogs on the fingers and thumb and a log on the palm for "Five Green and Speckled Frogs". It is a fun glove to use! We also have several different-colored gloves that we purchased for different purposes such as a green garden glove to use when we count vegetables in our garden and a tan glove we use as a beehive for our bees. So fun! Gloves are so versatile! And so are fingerpuppets! Your post was full of great ideas for both!

    When I do a counting rhyme with my gloves, I always do it several times ~ once with the glove and at least once without the glove. As soon as my storytime friends see the glove come out, their hands go up and they know we will be counting to five
    with our fingers before we even do the rhyme. Lol!

    Thanks for the wonderful post and for hosting the Flannel Friday round-up this week! It is a huge job, isn't it? But I'm sure it is fun since you get to see all the contributions first! Lol

    1. That's quite a collection of gloves your library has!

  4. Making finger puppets for kids is a good idea and finger puppets you shared is good.
    animal hand puppets

  5. I have 10 animals finger puppets but do not know how to make use of it. It had been kept for almost 3 yrs.. Please help me to give me some ideals of it. Thanks.

    1. You could use all ten for the song "Ten in the Bed" You can find the song on YouTube or at You can also hide the puppets, describe each animal and have the children guess what it is. You can the show the puppet when they guess. Put them all on your fingers and have the children count to ten with you. Take one away and have the children tell you how many are left. Continue to do so until they are all gone. You can use individual animals with a rhyme about that animal. You can group them into zoo animals or farm animals or other types depending on what kinds of animals you have.