CREATIVE FAMILY FUN: Make apple-head puppets for fall fun

By Donna Erickson

A creative way to make fall-themed puppets is to use bruised apples. (Photo by Donna Erickson)

If you find a few soft, bruised apples hiding behind the pickle and mayo jars in the back of your refrigerator, or discover some cast-offs at your local orchard or farmer’s market, consider them perfect for this activity. Peel, carve and dry them for apple-head puppets. And, skip the Botox. The more wrinkles they have, the better!

Here’s the stuff you’ll need for a puppet:

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon salt

1 apple, peeled

Wooden ice-cream or craft stick

Pumpkin carving knife or paring knife

Whole cloves, apple seeds, beans or rice to fill facial features

First, stir together the lemon juice and salt in a small bowl. Roll the peeled apple in the lemon mixture until it is completely covered. Remove it and pat dry. Insert a wooden stick into the bottom of the apple.

Hold the stick in your hand and carefully carve out eyes, nose, ears and a mouth. An adult may need to assist younger children with this. Poke cloves or rice into the cutouts to retain the shapes.

Dry the apple in an oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 4-5 hours. Leave the door slightly ajar. The fruit will harden and shrink as it dries. Or, you may partially oven-dry for an hour or two, then let it air-dry for several days. With no oven heat at all, it will take about two weeks to dry them in a dry place, but not in direct sunlight. You will no doubt be amazed at the dramatic, shrunken transformation!

Decorate the dried apple head with colorful raffia or ribbon for hair, trinkets for the ears and nose, and painted details for the mouth and cheeks. Gather fabric and tie, or hand-sew, around the top of the stick to make the puppet’s body and clothing. For arms, glue two extra sticks to the main stick, extending outward. Ready-made doll clothes and accessories can embellish the look you wish to create, too.

While you are at it, make several puppets, such as a smiling clown, an alien or a princess. Let your kids give them names and present an apple-head puppet show by holding onto the stick inside the clothing to maneuver the character.

TIP: When not in use, poke the main stick into a block of florist foam so that the puppets stand upright and provide a whimsical decoration for your child’s room.


Find more family fun at Write to Donna at


© 2022 Donna Erickson

Distributed by King Features Synd.


CREATIVE FAMILY FUN: Set up a nature discovery nook