I’ve started running art classes for kids and decided to give puppet making a go with my 5 – 7 year olds. I was looking for something economical and using recycled materials.

After a hunt around, I remembered making these reindeer marionette last year, and thought this idea would make a great Unicorn marionette too.

I teach a small class of 5 children and each and every one of them loved making the Unicorn puppets.

I would say for this age group you definitely need to be around to help, as there are a lot of fine motor skills needed with attaching the legs and threading the string. But children 8 and older will be fairly confident in making these for themselves.

And now that I’ve made a reindeer and a unicorn, it’s lead to me to question what other creatures could be made from toilet rolls, and fashioned into marionettes…

How to make a toilet roll Unicorn marionette

Materials you will need
2 toilet rolls
Thick glitter paper
Resene test pots – Pretty in Pink and Bedazzled
An assortment of beads with fairly big holes
A piece of dowel for the control bar, or just a straight twig from the garden
Cord – for the legs
Glue gun and glue
Wool in a range of colours
Googly eyes
string or cotton for the marionette cords.

What to do
1. Paint both of the toilet rolls and set them aside to dry – I used Resene Pretty in Pink and another of my students used Bedazzled along with the Pretty In Pink.

2. While the paint is drying you can start making the legs, neck, horn, mane and tail. To make the legs cut roughly 15cm of cord.

3. Thread both ends of the cord through each button hole. You should now have a flat button hoof and two pieces of string coming out of the top side of the button hole. Now thread 10 beads through both treads. Repeat this step for the remaining 3 legs.

Unicorn button and beads

4. To make the neck you need to take two strips of glitter paper about 1cm thick. Set them at right angles to each other and glue the strips where they meet. Now it’s kind of like plaiting the two pieces of paper. Fold the bottom piece over the top, then alternately fold the pieces back and forth over each other. Once you get to the end of the strips, glue down the ends. Set aside to be attached once the paint has dried.

neck cross over

5. To make the horn trace a medium circle onto the glitter paper. You could trace around a medium sized jar.

6. Cut out your circle and make one cut from the outside of your circle into the middle. This cut helps create the cone shape.

unicorn circle

7. Roll the circle into a cone, by sliding the cut edges over each other, and glue.

8. At the bottom of the cone cut 3 small notches out. This will create small flaps that can be glued on top of the Unicorn head.

unicorn horn tags

9. To make the mane and tail simply select a range of different coloured wool to use. Next cut at least 20 strands at 20cm long for both the mane and tail. Then fold both of them in half.

Unicorn tail and mane wool

10. Knot the tail in the middle of the wool and set aside.

11. Once your rolls are dry you can start to attach the legs.

12. To attach the legs make 4 holes in the bottom of one toilet roll using a pin or nail. You can then make the hole slightly bigger by twisting the end of a pointy pair of scissors through it.

13. Now thread the cord of the legs through each hole and tie a knot on the inside of the roll. See below:
Unicorn puppet legs

14. It’s a good time now to attach the marionette strings. I did this bit last and found it a little tricky because the mane and the tail were in the way of where I needed to place the string.

15. To attach the marionette strings, just poke a hole at the top of the head, and the back of the body, with the pin. Then pass a piece of string through each, and either tape off or you can add a small tooth pick to the bottom of the string. This will stop the string from coming back through the hole. Now tie the loose ends onto a piece of dowel, or a straight twig, adjusting the length of the strings to hold up the head higher than the body.

Unicorn pin and string

16. Using your hot glue gun place a decent amount of glue at the back of your Unicorn and attach the knotted wool for the unicorn’s tail.

unicorn knot and tail

17. Loop the mane around the horn, and glue in place. Make sure you add the hot glue first all around the horn where the mane will sit. I suggest you also place a small amount up the front side of the horn to help all the wool to stick.

Unicorn mane and horn

18. Glue on googly eyes, or just draw some eyes on.

19. From this point you can add any other details you like. Some of my students wanted wings, so we used the glitter paper to cut out some wing shapes, and glued them on the back.

Toilet roll Unicorn marionette with wings

Now have fun playing! Making up stories and creating shows with these gorgeous Unicorn puppets is lots of fun, and develops your child’s creativity skills at the same time. That’s a win-win for me!

For hundreds more fun craft ideas, make sure you check out our Creative arts and craft section.

Toilet roll Unicorn marionette pin page

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Alayna lives in the Horowhenua with her husband and two beautiful children, where she runs Laynescreative.com. She's a qualified primary school teacher with a passion for visual arts. Alayna's work has featured in print and online publications, you can check out her work on her website.

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