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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Make a Marionette from (Wait for It!) TP Rolls

By Kelly Mindell

I recently had the opportunity to create some crafts inspired by one of our family’s favorite movies, The Sound of Music. These puppets and theater are based on “The Lonely Goatherd,” one of our most-loved songs from the movie.

The good news is that you don’t need a real puppet theater in your house to have a puppet show. You can turn any desk, table, learning stool, or play kitchen into a marionette theater with just a simple DIY scenic background. We added some scrap fabric (you could use sheets, dish towels, or pillowcases) to turn our play kitchen into a full theater.

When it was time to make the marionettes, we reached for a material everyone has: toilet paper rolls. We replicated two of the goats from the movie, but you could also apply this same technique for other animals and make a whole farm, jungle, or herd.

Lonely Goatherd Marionettes + Theater

• paper in desired colors
• scissors
• scrap cardboard (cereal boxes are great for this)
• 2 toilet paper rolls (per puppet)
• paint and/or markers
• school glue or hot glue
• black rope, yarn, or ribbon
• white/neutral rope, yarn, or ribbon
• 2 Popsicle sticks
• cardboard, paint, and sponge for background


1. For each goat you will need to cut the following out of paper: two rectangles (one 6” x 4” and one 6.5” x 4”; cut fringe on each 4-inch end), two ear shapes (fringed), one tail shape (fringed), one beard shape (fringed). You’ll also need to cut out two horn shapes from cardboard, and cut one of the toilet paper rolls in half.

2. Paint the half-toilet paper roll; this will become the head. Decorate and add a face to it. You can make a paper hat by rolling a half-circle shape into a cone and folding up the bottom edge.

3. Glue the horns, ears, beard, and any other adornments to the head.

4. The other (whole) toilet paper roll is going to become the body of the goat. Poke four holes in the bottom of it. Cut four short pieces of black rope or yarn. Tie a knot in one end of each. Starting from the inside of the toilet paper roll, feed one piece of yarn/rope through each hole. (The knot will hold it in place.) Then knot the other end to become the feet.

5. Glue the larger fringed rectangle over the toilet paper roll. Then glue the smaller one on top. Glue the tail to one end.

6. Cut a long piece of neutral/white-colored rope or yarn. Poke a hole through the top of the head and the bottom of the head on an angle, and string the rope through both. Then poke two holes through the top of the body, one at the front and one at the back. String the same rope from the head through both holes on the body.

7. Glue two Popsicle sticks together to make an X shape. Tie each end of the rope to opposite ends of the Popsicle stick X.

8. To make the theater background, paint a large piece of cardboard blue, like the sky. Then cut out several mountain shapes and, using a sponge, paint those with different shades of brown and green. Glue to the sky background. Use clips or zip ties to attach the completed background to a table or other item in your home. Voila! You have a theater. Now you’re ready for a puppet show. 

Kelly Mindell’s brand, Studio DIY, is a kaleidoscope of DIY projects. (Miley Cyrus wore Mindell’s “stick of butter” costume on the singer’s Milk tour.) Find her at