Family Activity

The Pied Piper Family Activity

Pull some strings and learn the language of puppets (with a little Italian thrown in) to get ready for The Pied Piper! For each show in the season, we post a new Family Activity. Bookmark to discover how you and your family can continue your theatergoing experiences at home.

You can also find all of our Family Activities (and more!) at


Paper Doll Marionettes

The Pied Piper is told entirely by marionettes! A marionette is a puppet controlled from above using wires or strings. A marionette's puppeteer, called a manipulator, is often hidden from the audience. The manipulators must work together in Carlo Colla & Sons Marionette Company's productions. In this activity, work together as a family to make your own marionettes come to life.

Materials: Printable marionette template, crayons or colored pencils, fasteners, string, scissors, popsicle sticks, tape

Step One: Print out our marionette template:

Marionette Template

Step Two: Color the marionettes' costumes—or fur—to bring them to life.

Step Three: Now it's time to assemble your marionettes. Cut out the pieces of each puppet. Poke holes and attach them to one another with brass fasteners:

Materials: cut-out puppet, fasteners, string, scissors Stabbing a brad through the cut out layers Opening brad on back side of paper Rat pieces all attached with four brads

Cut equal lengths of string and tape them to the body parts of the puppet that you want to manipulate.

Cutting two lengths of string, one for the head, another for the base of the tail Taping string to reverse side of rat layers

Make an "airplane" control for your marionette out of popsicle sticks (pens or unsharpened pencils will work in a pinch), using tape to secure the bars together. Then tie your strings to each end. Secure the strings with tape:

Taping two bars of 'airplane' marionette control to one another in a T-shape Taping marionette strings to each end of the control Fully taped control Finished marionette

Step Four: Practice using the strings to make your marionette move. Can your marionette...

  • Wave?
  • Dance?
  • Walk?
  • Take a bow?
  • What else can your marionette do?

BONUS: Carlo Colla & Sons Marionette Company is rooted in the tradition of marionette-making and storytelling. What's something in your family that has been passed down from generation to generation? Is there an object? A skill? A meal? A song or story? Talk about something that your family can be known for and that could be passed down from generation to generation!


Italian Fairy Tale

For hundreds of years, the legendary Italian Carlo Colla & Sons Marionette Company—considered the best in the world—has been entrancing audiences with their elaborate marionette productions. Now they bring the timeless tale of The Pied Piper, the townspeople and (don't forget) the rats to your family. In this activity, your mouth will learn Italian and your body will become the characters from the show.


Step One: Together, practice saying the Italian word for each character aloud.

Step Two: Now, you and your kids should pretend to be each of these characters. Make sure that your whole body changes, and don’t forget to use your face to really bring the character to life! Think about:

  • Is this character tall or short?
  • Does this character walk fast or slow?
  • How would this character greet others?

Step Three: Now that you have practiced being each character, everyone should walk around the room (you might need to clear a space so that you can all walk comfortably).

Step Four: Your kid should call out one of the characters in Italian ("i ratti!") and everyone in the family should immediately transform into that character as they walk.

Step Five: Your kid can call out as many of the Italian characters as they want, each time everyone should change their body and face as quickly as they can.


Modern Day Pied Piper

The Pied Piper uses his flute to convince all of the rats to leave the town. Imagine if a modern-day pied piper came to New York City and made all of the subway rats disappear. It’s your turn to become the Pied Piper and create a plan to exterminate the rats in New York City.

Materials: Paper, writing utensil

Step One: Make a list of all of the places that you and your family see rats around the city. HINT: If a favorite restaurant is one of them, it might be time to download Yelp!

Step Two: Make an action plan for how your family would get all of the rats out of New York City. How would you collect the rats from each different place? How would you lure them away? Where would the rats go? HINT: The more ridiculous and creative the better!

Step Three: Cast your extermination show! Assign each member of your family a role to play. HINT: This would also be a great time to cast your rat marionettes from the first activity!

Step Four: Execute your plan! Act out the whole plan and see if it works. Do the rats agree to leave the city? Do you need to adjust your plan? Try out as many extermination plans as you can think of!

BONUS: Call up some New York City exterminators and pitch them on your rat removal plan!

Ready for more activities? Come early and visit the lower lobby area before the show.

Twitter   Did you bring your marionette to life with the skill of a Colla manipulator?
Share a photo or video with us on Instagram or Twitter, #ThePiedPiper.
Facebook   What schemes have you cooked up for the unsuspecting rats of NYC?
Like us on Facebook and message us with your extermination plans!

Artwork by Katie Diamond