How to Make a Talking WhiteBoard

Remember that 90’s show called the masked magician? A guy would get up and reveal magicians secrets for tricks.

Well this week I reveal a #kidmin and #puppeting #magictrick. So if you love the element of surprise, stop reading!

Great puppets in kid ministry are hard to come by at a cheap price so I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with different ways to build low cost ones. (Here’s a full size camel I made 2 years ago)

This week I wanted to explain how I made a fun, exciting whiteboard puppet that can be almost anything you want.

It didn’t cost much, much less then the commercially available version which would be several hundred dollars.

Not counting my labor, I paid all of $40 for this simple but effective puppet and it’s definitely a puppet that will wow both kids and adults!

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The great thing about this puppet is you actually draw the face on with a marker and the moving parts of the puppet, the pupils and mouth start moving. The pupils take a little slight of hand to slide out into place, as you have to block the audience’s view as you “draw” them on the board.

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To start building it, I took a quick trip to the hardware store where I picked up a small sheet of 24″ by 36″ acrylic fiberglass and some 1×2 boards.

Next I picked up some poster board and made a grid on it. In other designs that I had seen this helps you know where to draw the eyes around the pupils and the line for the mouth. It also hides the cuts you make on the poster board for your pre-drawn pupils and mouth to move off and on.

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Next I made the poster board pieces that would have the pupils and mouth on it. Have as much fun with this as you want to, remember the pupils can be simple and the mouth should be able to give you some expression. I can open mine a little bit or big for some fun moments.

You use the grids on your paper to make the cuts on either side. The important thing is cutting your poster board longer than you need so it can go through the whole splice. After you slide it into place, match the grid marks to help it blend in.

Here’s a look at the back side of the board so you can see how it works.

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Once you get it working have some fun with the markerboard, making it come to life.

I’ve seen designs where there’s springs to keep the eyes center or the mouth closed. The other thing I would do differently next time is attach the poster board that has the pupils and mouth drawn on with Velcro to the wooden handles.

This would allow you to change out those images for different needs.

The final touch was some simple angled steel as a trim pieces around the outside of the board.

When I use the puppet in skits I like to address the grid paper as my way of “teaching” myself how to draw. I put a short portion of a performance we did below so you can see this thing come to life. Have fun!

On another practical note, this is a great puppet if you are ventriloquist, but if you’re like me and don’t possess the skill, you can get by with a person off stage voicing the puppet. The hard thing is that the person drawing has to run the mouth so the person talking on stage and the person talking as the puppet have to be in sync. There’s a few spots in the video where you can tell our markerboard is a little late talking, and that’s just because I was a little bit behind our person providing the voice. The other option is to do something that’s recorded so you know exactly when to move the mouth.

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