Every nook and cranny of your home can be a stage when your kids play with puppets. Stirring up imaginations can be as easy as putting your hands in socks or drawing a face on a banana. Here's a way to tell a tale while practicing the ABCs. With your kids, make a special collection of puppets that shows off 26 endearing personalities, all inspired by the alphabet. Start with one or two letters, and add to your collection every week. Here's how:
1. Make a basic hand-puppet pattern by placing an adult hand - with thumb and pinkie extended to the sides and three middle fingers together - on a sheet of paper. Draw around the hand, allowing extra space on all sides. The pattern should be about 12 inches long and 8 inches wide at the widest point. Adjust the sketch to make it even. Cut out along the lines.
2. Place the pattern on two pieces of lightweight felt. Pin in place and then cut out. Using a hole punch, make holes around the cutout felt pieces 1/2 inch from the edge (except the bottom edge) and 1/2 inch between each hole. Note: It is easier to punch the holes one layer of felt at a time, but be sure the holes match up when placing the pieces together.
3. Match the felt pieces and weave cording or a long shoelace in and out of the holes, beginning and ending at the bottom corners of the puppet shape. Knot each end. Your child's hand should fit in the bottom opening with the three middle fingers in the wide body and the thumb and pinkie to the sides.
4. Using felt scraps, cut out a shape of an alphabet letter. Glue the letter onto the puppet. Add details, such as buttons, wiggly eyes, yarn, pipe cleaners, fabric scraps, trinkets, etc., to create the puppet's features and personality. The items should represent words that start with the same alphabet letter. Here are some ideas:
"A" is for Alligator, wearing antlers, carrying an apple with an ant crawling on top.
"B" is for Baby Bunny with a blue bow and buttons.
"H" is for Hippo with a heart and a hanky.
"L" is for Lazy Lion with leaves and a lollipop.
"P" is for Purple Polka-dotted Pig with a peace sign, pearls and pompom.
"T" is for Turkey with a turquoise tutu and two teeth.
"W" is for Woolly Walrus with a wiry wig.
"Z" is for Zany Zebra with a zero and a zigzag.
Donna Erickson's award-winning series "Donna's Day" is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit www.donnasday.com and link to the NEW Donna's Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is "Donna Erickson's Fabulous Funstuff for Families."