Learning & Loving It: Puppet Time
Learning & Loving It is a series featuring simple, yet fun educational activities for home learning and virtual, interactive tutoring.
Magical Learning with Puppets
Supplies: Paper, pen/markers/crayons/paint, scissors, glue/tape/stapler, popsicle stick/tongue depressor/paint stirrer, book of choice
1. Choose a book to read together.
2. Draw or print the characters from the story on the blank sheets of paper. The child may decorate the characters with markers, crayons, paint, etc. if they wish.
3. Cut the characters out.
4. Staple, tape or glue the character to a wooden popsicle stick (or tongue depressor, paint stirrer, etc.).
5. Repeat this step for each character that you have creating a stick puppet for each.
Using your puppets
Share a favorite read aloud with your child and follow up with a discussion about the characters in the story. (We’re using Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle). Can the child name all of the characters in the story?
Explain to the child that he or she will use crayons (or markers or paint) and paper to create a special character that will be made into a stick puppet.
Provide the materials. Assist the child in cutting out the finished characters. (“Scissors Snip”). Tape or glue or staple the stick onto the back of their characters to make the stick puppet.
Encourage your child to use their stick puppets to act out the story or to tell their own stories. Stick puppets can even sing and dance—like in “This Old Man (he played one)” or “I Know an Old Lady (who swallowed a fly).”
You may even want to create a puppet theater to use with the stick puppets. Let the child decorate and old white sheet with markers to use as a curtain or backdrop. Encourage the child to create scenes on the sheet from the story that he or she is about to tell with the stick puppets. Props can be made from tiny boxes, empty thread spools, small fabric scraps, or tiny doll pillows for beds.
About Puppets for learning
Today, puppets can be used to teach a variety of things. Let’s take a look at some of those things.
Puppets are simple effective tools for delivering information. When puppets are incorporated with play-based learning, children retain knowledge more effectively and efficiently. The puppets then become tools for sharing or retelling what they have learned or observed. Puppets are a delightful way to encourage children to exercise their language skills. Use a puppet to introduce a story. When the story is finished the puppet can discuss it with the children. The puppet might ask, “can you help me make up a new ending for my story?”
Children can benefit from puppets through oral and language skills development. When a puppet speaks, children can listen, identify, and understand different words and phrases. The act of speaking out loud is much different than thinking the thoughts in your head. So, when children are required to answer questions, the puppet can act as support—when the puppet speaks all attention is on the puppet not on the child. This gradually nurtures confidence.
Puppets can be used to analyze characterization in a short story or novel, as well as act out a historical event. Another benefit of puppets with this age group revolves around the developing the child’s social skills. They begin learning how to interact with the different personalities of their peers. By exploring different communication techniques using puppets, students can apply the same strategies to regular conversations.
Students in higher grades can use puppets in a more profound way. Using a puppet “transforms getting caught in the headlight into shining in the spotlight.” They can aid in acting out Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar, debating a complex issue, or showing a difficult process, such as a science experiment.
Puppets can break down barriers and encourage students to discuss very difficult issues when found in literature or in everyday life—such as bullying, abuse, drugs, and cultural and physical differences. Many students are very uncomfortable with deeply personal topics, and puppets can be that “mask” to advance ideas or express issues without feeling vulnerable.
Over the centuries, puppets have remained a powerful form of communication between people. For students, puppets are a gateway to opening up the mind and inviting knowledge in. Kids’ imaginations can run wild, and without knowing it, they are developing essential skills needed for everyday life, just as they did thousands of years ago.
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