Cranetivities: Fun with Puppetry!


Crane Resources for Kids

Welcome to another week of Cranetivities! We hope you’ve been having fun learning about cranes and how you can help them. Today we have a fun activity to get you outside to collect materials to make a crane puppet! See last week’s edition of Cranetivities here.

Activity description: Puppetry has a long history and takes many forms. Many of us are familiar with puppets like Kermit the Frog and Big Bird who is actually a crane! And there are many different types of puppets out there. Maybe you were lucky enough to see the incredible puppet show Ajijaak on Turtle Island when it toured last year. The show told the amazing story of a single Whooping Crane trying to make the journey south, and the obstacles she had to overcome. Or maybe you have met Hope, the International Crane Foundation’s Whooping Crane mascot, who was made for us by the famous Jim Henson Company!

Puppetry is a fun way to communicate your love of cranes to your friends and family. This week, you will learn how to make a crane puppet from materials around your house! If you want to learn how to make other creatures, you can watch more Ibex Puppetry videos and put on a play!

Kindergarten through adults

Time estimate: 2 hours

Topics covered: Art, creativity, reading and cranes in culture

Materials needed:  

– empty paper towel tube or toilet paper tube 

– one empty cardboard box (from light bulbs, cereal or pasta) 

– paper (cardstock or regular) 

– one drinking straw 

– Twine/string or yarn 

– Wire/twist ties 

– Sticks 

– Scissors 

– Pencils 

– Markers 

– Tape, glue stick or hot glue gun 

– hole punch

For the Baraboo Public Library’s Crafternoon crafts 

– washer 

– yarn 

– pipe cleaner 

– darning needle 

– markers, colored pencils or crayons

Optional: wire

Adult involvement: Not necessary, but strongly encouraged for younger learners

Indoor or outdoor: Both – you can collect materials outside, and then assemble inside 


International Crane Foundation YouTube channel: How to Make a Whooping Crane puppet video 

Story of Why Crane Has Long Legs and a Red Crown 

Ibex Puppetry Facebook Live video: Rabbit Goes to the Moon 

PDF of wing cutouts for the Whooping Crane puppet 

Ibex Puppetry Facebook Live video: more puppet creatures 

Sova Theater video on how to make puppets from pinecones 

Baraboo Public Library Facebook Live video: A Mother’s Day Bird Crafternoon 

PDFs and graphics for Baraboo Public Library craft 


First, read the story Why Crane has Long Legs and a Red Crown. This is a Cree cultural story that explains how the crane got some of its features. The Cree are a large group of Algonquian people of the northern plains in North America with a rich cultural history. The name “Cree” is a derivative of a longer name that French explorers used for the tribe, and there are eight different groups of CreeThere are many Cree stories about the animals that live in North America. 


Some follow-up questions to ask yourself or your young learner after reading this story: 

This story provides one explanation for how cranes got long legs and a red patch on their heads. What do you think is a biological, or scientific, explanation?

Cranes use their long legs to wade through their wetland habitats, and their red crowns to communicate to each other.


From this story, you learned about the cultural importance of cranes to the Cree people. Are cranes important to you, too? What animals do you care about? Can you think of stories about those animals too? Here is a story about mountain goats, and a story about a frog and rabbit. 

Inspired by this story, artist Adelka Polak has created a fun video especially for the International Crane Foundation about how to make a Whooping Crane puppet from materials in and around your house! You can download the PDF pattern for the wings here.



Once you have made your crane, you can fly it around your neighborhood!

If you enjoyed making that crane and want to make some companions, including the rabbit from the Cree story, you can
watch this longer video that Adelka made with more puppet creatures. It starts at 2 minutes 29 seconds.  You can also watch this follow up video for even more puppets! It starts at 12 minutes 10 seconds. In this video, Adelka will teach you how to make an owl puppet from a pine cone!

After you make your woodland creatures, you can put on
 a puppet show version of Why Crane Has Long Legs and a Red Crown!

If you love making puppets, the Baraboo Public Library put together a Crafternoon video, it starts at 2 minutes 24 seconds. You can learn how to make a bird nest for your puppet show, or make it into a pin for yourself, or as a gift for a friend. You will also learn how to make simple birds just from a sheet of paper with a pattern printed from a PDF, which you can download here. The paper birds can be more characters for your puppet play, or you can hang them as decorations in your home. 

We hope you have enjoyed learning how to make puppets and celebrating cranes in Cree culture. If you make any of these puppets, be sure to share them with the International Crane Foundation and Ibex Puppetry on social media![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]