Give your students a break from their screens with an activity that connects all the language arts! Puppetry involves reading, writing, speaking, listening, and the creative arts as well! Much loved puppets, such as Kermit the Frog, Oscar the Grouch, and Mr. Rogers’ Daniel Tiger, have kept both children and adults entertained for decades.
As a child, I enjoyed creating puppets and holding my own shows. As a teacher, I watched my students do the same, using their imaginations in ways I had never thought of. Some of the benefits of puppetry include stimulating imagination, boosting confidence, increasing communication skills, and encouraging creativity. Puppets can also provide emotional support to children by giving them a voice and an avenue to express their feelings without having to speak directly.
After students read the passage, have them write a script for their puppet show. Kids can write parts for a narrator, the bear, the fox, and the shepherd. Or, they can record a narration of the story and act it out with their puppets. Extend the activity by writing original scripts, for example, “The New Adventures of Bear and Fox.” Folk and fairy tales, as well as fables, are easy to adapt, but original stories offer kids the opportunity to share what’s on their minds. The possibilities are limitless!
Create the Puppets
After the script is written, it’s time to make the puppets. What kind? There are so many: finger puppets, stick puppets, paper bag puppets, and sock puppets, to name a few. Kids can let their creativity go wild! Recycle materials, such as egg cartons, cardboard, magazines, fabric, and odd socks. Or, just use your hands with inspiration from the video, How to Make Shadow Puppets With Your Hands.
Here, you’ll find directions for making more than 28 different kinds of puppets; most can be made from household items. For more ideas check out 26 Puppets for Kids. Or, if you prefer a video, watch as five easy hand puppets are constructed.
The video, 5 Easy Paper Puppets demonstrates how to create puppets with folded construction paper, including a bunny, bee, frog, pig, and duck puppet. You may have to make them all, since you won’t be able to choose among them.
Create a stage, using whatever is available to you. The back of a couch or chair will suffice. I love this idea of a wearable puppet stage, made with a small cardboard box. Other ideas include a sheet draped over a curtain rod positioned in a doorway, or a card table covered with a blanket or large tablecloth. From simple to more complex, these 10 ideas for creating your own theater will get you started. Many include the use of recycled items.
Recording the performance and sharing it with others, especially family, can go a long way in this time of social distancing. It just may make someone’s day! (I can assure you that Grandma and Grandpa will watch the performances over and over!)
Go further with this activity by discovering how puppets are used around the world. Learn about wayang (shadow) puppets from Indonesia, water puppets from Vietnam, and more at Puppets Around the World. For older students, The World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts is a great resource.
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Summer Solutions workbooks keep kids off the electronics and focused on basic skills. This allows students to get the practice they need so that they can continue learning all summer long. Ordering is easy and the books are sent directly to your house.