Make: A Vampire Puppet Halloween Craft for Kids

I don’t know about you, but come October, I’m creepy-Halloween-everything-obsessed. And my very favorite Halloween horror sub-genre? I vaaant your gothic vampire content. From Anne Rice stories and Edward Gorey illustrations to Bram Stoker and What We Do In the Shadows (pour one out for the energy vampires).

So here’s an absolutely DASTARDLY creation designed to honor the creepiness of those classic vamps. One for the kids who like to add a touch of spookiness to their Halloween celebrations…a DIY vampire puppet!

Watch the simple tutorial video below for different ways to bring this project to life…

This little vampire puppet is a little bit cute, a little bit creepy, and ENDLESSLY expressive. Once finished, your kiddos will be able to put on a Halloween puppet show of EPIC proportions.

YOUR children of the night can give these a look all their own (because hey, some might prefer their Counts look more Sesame Street than spooky). And don’t be surprised if they develop an insatiable hunger for putting on puppet shows – the most entertaining part of this project is learning how to move your vampire to create extremely theatrical gestures. I think we can all agree…vampires are the dramatics of Halloween monsters, right?

For more fang-tastic Halloween bat fun, try making a set of bendable bats, or your own framed faux bat collection!

To make your own DIY vampire puppet you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Woodpeckers Crafts and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*

BASIC SUPPLIES:

  • A Wooden peg clothespin (like these)
  • Black and white (or whatever colors you’d like your vampire to be!) acrylic or tempera paints and a brush
  • 1/4 cut of black felt and another small piece of colorful felt
  • Scissors (I used this kind)
  • Craft glue (I used this kind)
  • (3) Dowel rods, wooden skewers, or chopsticks – the rods I used were 3/16-inch in diameter and 12 inches long.

OPTIONAL SUPPLIES:

FOR A SIMPLIFIED VERSION:

  • A popsicle stick or paint stirrer instead of a clothespin
  • Cardstock instead of felt

DIY Vampire Puppet Instructions:

  1. Paint the peg clothespin and dowel rods.

    Paint the three dowel rods, and clothespin. I choose to make the vampire’s body black, and head white but your vampire doesn’t have to be black and white like ours – you can pick your own creepy colors!
    Paint the peg clothespin and dowel rods.

  2. Cut a vampire cape and collar from felt.

    You can download and print our vampire cape templates, or draw a simple cape shape onto a piece of paper. Cut out and trace onto felt. Our vampire has a black cape with a bright fuschia color because they’re awesome like that, but you can choose whichever colors you prefer of course!
    Cut a vampire cape and collar from felt.
    Once traced, use fabric scissors to cut out the cape and collar.

  3. Cut small lines in the back and wings of the cape (optional).

    Using an X-Acto knife or fabric scissors, snip small lines into the cape where shown below. This is where we’ll insert our puppet rods.
    Cut small lines in the back and wings of the cape.
    Note: This is an optional step, but I think it makes the puppet a bit more durable and helps little hands better control the puppets movements.You can skip this step and simply glue the rods on at the end instead.

  4. Glue the clothespin vampire onto the collar and cape.

    Use craft glue to glue the collar to your clothespin vampire, then glue the entire thing to the middle of the cape as shown.
    Glue the clothespin vampire onto the collar and cape.

  5. Insert and glue a rod to each of the sides of the vampire’s cape.

    Apply glue to the ends of your wing rods and slide through the slits you made in the cape.
    Insert and glue a rod to each of the sides of the vampire's cape.
    (Again, you can also just glue the rods to the cape where shown).

  6. Insert and glue a rod to the back of the vampire and let dry.

    Flip your vampire over, and glue + insert the rod at the back as shown.
    Insert and glue a rod to the back of the vampire.
    Let dry for a full 24 hours before use!

  7. Give your vampire puppet a face!

    I initially drew on a simple face with black permanent marker (shown below) then cleaned it up and drew on a few more details once I was sure it had completely dried.
    Give your vampire puppet a face!

I had initially made this puppet as a marionette, but realized after putting together the first draft, the string setup was going to be a *tad* complicated and wouldn’t be able to give me the good bat-like movements I wanted. The rod puppet vampire I ended up with is both simpler to make AND easier for kids to maneuver.

And figuring out how to make this puppet is ultimately the most fun piece of this project. How will you create creepy vampire-like gestures? How do you need to hold and move the rods to make your vampire take flight?

As a bonus art project, make a set for you puppet show!

To create a simpler paper vampire…

Looking for something you can make with younger kids? Use our vampire cape templates to create simple paper vampires or popsicle stick puppets instead...

  • DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THE VAMPIRE CAPE TEMPLATES. Print page one or two (for a larger version) onto cardstock.
  • COLOR AND DECORATE. Use markers, oil pastels, paints, or other craft supplies to color and decorate your vampire cape.
  • PAINT A POPSICLE STICK OR PAINT STIRRER. Instead of using a peg clothespin, you can paint a flat popsicle stick or paint stirrer, adding a simple vampire face at the top.
  • CUT OUT AND PASTE. Cut out the cape, paste your vampire to the middle and use as a stick puppet – you can create creases at the middle of cape “wings” for a bit of movement!
Our DIY vampire puppet being held up in front of a dark grey background.

Queue up our Spotify Halloween playlist for a bit of perfect puppet show soundtrack!


*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon or Woodpecker Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

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Amanda E.
With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.

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