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Types of Puppets: the Complete Guide to Every Style of Puppetry, Ever

When you hear the word “puppet”, you probably think of of sock puppets, Jim Henson’s Muppets, or puppets on strings like Pinocchio.

Pam Severns types of puppets neon

But the world of puppetry is SO much more vast than you probably realize!

Puppets come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and kinds and it’s an art form that charms both children and adults.

It’s an art form that's been around for thousands of years. There is even evidence of the ancient Egyptian use of puppets.

Here is an overview of the many types of puppetry in the world.

And if you want to go a little deeper, download my free cheat sheet on writing for puppetry and check out my self-guided online puppetry courses.

First of all, What IS a puppet?

A puppet is an object that is given agency by the person controlling it; the puppeteer.

This means the puppet has its own goals, makes its own choices, and seems to operate independently of the puppeteer.

Most types of puppetry can be categorized into these categories -

  1. Hand puppets

  2. Marionettes

  3. Shadow puppets

  4. Tabletop puppets

  5. Parade Puppets

  6. Toy Theater

  7. Object puppetry

  8. Ventriloquism

  9. Crankie Puppetry

  10. Humanette Puppetry

  11. Body Puppetry

  12. Automata

  13. Animatronics

  14. Digital Puppetry

Hand Puppets

The most thought-of type of puppet, the one most people go to immediately when they think of puppets, is … dun dun dun … the hand puppet.

Puppetry, in general, includes the use of the hands, so naturally hand puppets are the most common type of puppet.

There are many types of hand puppets.

We’ll go from the simplest to the most complex type of hand puppet.

Finger puppets

Finger puppets are exactly what they sound like - puppets that go on your fingers!

Used most often in children’s theater, finger puppets are not the most versatile of puppets in terms of movement.

But they are cute.

types of puppets finger puppets

The popular one-of-a-kind puppets that Barnaby Dixon creates could be called finger puppets. Really, really fancy finger puppets.

But more commonly finger puppets are little fabric tubes that go on your fingers, or even more simply a face drawn on the tips of the fingers.

Peepers Puppets

When you're new to puppetry, peepers are one of the simplest ways to learn puppetry.

Peepers were invented by the amazing puppeteer Hobey Ford and are simple eyeballs that you put on your hands.

Simple, cute, and effective.

Lejo is an adorable example of Peepers put to good use.

Glove Puppets

A glove puppet is a hand puppet that involves full use of the hand.

The head of the puppet uses the middle two or three fingers, and the arms of the puppet are operated with the outer fingers - the thumb and pinky (or thumb and pinky + ring finger, depending on your puppeteering style).

hand puppet types of puppets

Examples of glove puppets:

Greg the Bunny is a glove puppet.

Sock puppets are glove puppets without arms (if you add arms they’re probably operated with sticks, then you have yourself a hand-and-rod puppet)

Punch and Judy, the historic and wildly misogynistic duo, are glove puppets with carved heads.

Most puppets intended for small children are also glove puppets.

types of puppets