The materials needed are simple: bristol board to draw on or as a solid backing to paste colouring sheets on, scissors to cut around the drawings, glue (if you’re using separate colouring sheets), and sticks. Any kind of stick should work, but consider the size of your stage and the desired mobility of your puppets when deciding. Popsicle sticks are convenient and can carry a lot of glue, but they’re very short so you won’t be able to move them around a lot without people’s fingers showing. Wooden barbecue skewers are great, but you’re probably best using tape to secure them to the back of the bristol board.
Have the children colour, draw or paint the characters they want to make into puppets, either directly on the bristol board or on separate sheets; we used separate sheets in case of accidents. Once they’re done, have them cut around their character with scissors, leaving about a centimetre (half an inch) of space on all sides. If you’re using separate sheets, glue them onto the bristol board backing and wait for everything to dry. Then, flip the puppet around and secure the stick (popsicle stick, wooden skewer, or whatever) to the back using glue or tape, whichever works best for you. There you go—you have stick puppets!
For a smaller-scale production, you can also use coloured paper as a backing or for drawing on, but keep in mind that the puppets will be flimsier, since colouring paper is weaker than bristol board.