Elevation of the Cross – Peg Dolls

I am so excited to share this activity with you! It was so much fun making these dolls! I wanted my kids and students to have a visual for the Elevation of the Cross story, so I decided to make peg dolls. What is that, you say?  It is a doll made out of a clothespin or a wooden peg. Google peg dolls and a tons of stuff will come up. Some are very exquisite and unique. What made me think of peg dolls? Well, one time when I was young, my mom showed me some peg dolls she made for her high school English class. They had to do some sort of activity for Canterbury Tales and she made some of the characters as peg dolls. I remember thinking how neat they were and how much I wanted to make some. I never really had a reason to make them but now I do!! I think these dolls are perfect for teachers to use when explaining bible stories. My kids really enjoy playing with them and it helped them remember the story of the finding of the cross as well as the characters’ names. As you may remember we have been singing the hymn of the Holy Cross during prayers. Well my youngest started to make St. Macarius sing the song whenever he touches the cross!  She did this all on her own! I thought, that was a great way to have the kids practice singing the song. 🙂

What I did was first write a list of characters that I needed. St. Helen, St. Constantine, dead or sick person, healed person and St. Macarius. And then I wrote up a simple script for when I teach it to my kids.

I had a bunch of old t-shirts, felt, ribbon and sticker gems that I used as the clothing. (Please excuse my messy glue gun work!) I made sure that my dolls matched what was on the icons. I went online and looked at various icons to see what their normal clothing was and tried to recreate it as best I could.

exaltation of the cross

St. Helen is usually wearing red, with a crown and has jewels on her clothes. St. Constantine has a crown.

helen & constantine

And St. Macarius has a beard. I wanted to get some crosses on his outfit but it was just too hard to do with white without making it look messy. But I did put some sticker gems on his stole to make crosses.

elevation of cross macarius

For the eyes I found some stickers in the scrapbook aisle called nail heads. It was next to all the sparkly gem stickers. They are the perfect size for clothespin dolls.

nail heads

For the sick person I wanted to make it look like he really did get healed from touching the cross. So on one side, I had a “sick face” and on the other side was a happy face. When I touch him to the cross I quickly spin him between my fingers so that he miraculously heals. My kids thought it was so cool!! They were like, how’d you do that?! 🙂  elevation cross dead guy

Touch the cross & FLIP! He’s healed!!

elevation cross healed guy

For the crosses I picked up some branches from the ground. I picked ones from the same tree and tried to find some that were about the same thickness. I trimmed them by putting the stick on the edge of the counter. If you put the edge of the counter just above the nub and then press down on the extended part of the twig it will break cleanly.


You will still probably have to sand the ends just a little bit to make sure no one will scratch themselves! Then I used rubber bands to tie the two sticks together. It might sound complicated but it is really easy!

Once you get a nice collection of dolls, you can reuse them throughout the year for different stories. Please let me know if you made your own peg dolls. I’d LOVE to see what you did! It’s so much fun creating them!