Make an articulated dragon puppet from paper with a free printable puppet template!
Have you ever thought of what it would be like to have a pet dragon? If we consult literary sources, they differ on this account: a dragon brought quite a bit of trouble to Hagrid, but if we take Daenerys, she made good use of hers! One way or another, it’s a fascinating subject for daydreamers to ponder over! Especially for kids. Could they ride on a dragon’s back? Could they roast marshmallows with its fire? A fun pet it would make!
We’ve just finished reading a book where a girl Zoey got a dragon! It wasn’t exactly a pet – she only cared for him for a short time before letting him go back in the wild. And he didn’t give her a ride – he only grew big enough to carry her cat. But he did roast marshmallows! As a matter of fact, the book I’m talking about is called Zoey & Sassafras: Dragons & Marshmallows. While dealing with a subject as magical as dragons, the book is both realistic and scientific. Upon finding a baby dragon on her porch, Zoey needs to figure out how to care about him. She does it by remembering what she already knew about reptiles and conducting a scientific experiment.
Turns out the little dragon likes marshmallows, and that’s how he gets his name! But just as it seems Zoey figured out the mystery, we’re in for a bit of a surprise…
It’s a great book for ages 4-8! For a while I found it difficult finding books that would be just right for my son. He had a period when he wanted more text than could be found in picture books, but had difficulty following the story in chapter books with very few pictures. This book is just right for that stage. It is oriented to beginning readers, with big font and many pictures. I found it absolutely adorable that some of the pictures – the contents in Zoey’s journal – were actually drawn by a little girl.
How to Make an Articulated Dragon Puppet
Besides the template that you can download below, you’ll need some card stock, glue (white glue in a bottle or a glue stick) and bamboo skewers.
Print the dragon – you can choose between three colours we made (green, blue and pink) or colour your own!
Cut all the parts out. The left and right sides of the body get glued together, and two wings attach on top. Do not glue them all the way through though. Leave about 0.5 cm or 1/4″ unglued at the spot where the head and the tail will be attaching to the body. It’s marked by a thin dotted line on all the templates. Fold the paper out at the dotted lines and use the flaps for attaching to the articulated body later.
On our template, you will find four strips for making the body. You can either use all four or just two. Using all four will make a longer body, like the pink dragon has. Using two will make a smaller, less flexible, but better proportioned body, like the green dragon has. If you choose to use all four, cut them out, then glue them in pairs to make two long strips.
Then glue the two strips at a 90 degree angle, then start folding them. It’s very simple, simpler than making a braid, but you might want to watch the video below if you haven’t made this type of accordion fold before.
Folding paper is fascinating, and can teach kids an appreciation of engineering. The process of folding can bring out unexpected properties from the paper – rigidity, volume, springiness, stretchiness. Our dragon’s body has a bit of all of those attributes.
Now that you have the body, glue the head and the body to it, using the flaps you left before. Attach two skewers to the front and the back of the dragon with a couple of little pieces of scotch tape or hot glue.
Watch the Video Tutorial
How to Train Your Dragon
The dragon puppets are easily trainable and can perform a variety of tricks on demand!
The pink one if especially agile. With its long body, it can form a semi-circle and a letter S, dive down and soar high!
But I personally like the green one more because, while suffering in articulation, it seems to have better proportions. He is still capable of some impressive movement!
In the dark, the dragons keep playing around. I love making shadow puppets, and so I was very curious to see how well this dragon could perform in our shadow theatre. Turns out – he’s pretty good! Use a flashlight for casting a shadow on the wall and watch it dance.