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Stems — Ainslie Henderson, 2016

The process of puppet making is narrated and is likened to making music. The puppet maker collects random objects and lays them out before starting to assemble his puppets. He then sets his tableau to music. The puppeteer’s work is very stripped back. The music and the musician chosen to be the soundtrack are also very stripped back.

A poetic glimpse into the world of puppet-making as we witness the birth of a puppet as it transforms from a collection of bits and pieces into a character with its own personality.

Classroom Activities

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  • What similarities are there between the process of making puppets and the process of writing music?
  • The narrator describes the puppets as having “an inherent sadness” – what does he mean by this? Do you agree?
  • The narrator says that the puppets act out their own “swansong” – what does this mean? Do you agree?
  • What comes first – the idea for the puppet or the elements which go to make it?
  • What comes first – the tune or melody or its constituent notes?


  • Does Britain have a strong history of puppet making?
  • Which countries have traditions of puppet making?
  • What other films does ‘Stems’ remind you of? In what ways?



  • Make your own stop-motion film about inanimate objects that come to life.


  • Collect some random objects and make / design a puppet or figure.


  • The music to accompany this short is by Poppy Ackroyd – what kind of music does she write / play? Do you like it? Would you listen to more of her music?

Clip Details

Year of Production 2016
Genre Abstract, Stop-Motion
Curriculum Areas Expressive Arts, Literacy and English, Technologies
Director Ainslie Henderson
Country of Origin UK
Medium / Content Mixed Media, Colour, Sound
Themes Work / Ambition, Communication, Creative Expression
Clip Length 02:24
Clip Length 02:24
Age Group P1-P4, P5-P7, S1-S3, S4-S6