Puppets, Puppets Everywhere!

Possible Classroom Concepts: Language Arts –  Reading For Information

Social Studies – Countries Around the World (Culture/History – Puppetry), People Who Make A Difference, Inventors

Science – Animals, Recycling, Repurposing, Earth Day, Light And Shadow

Possible Art Concepts: Art History –  Jim Henson, Julie Taymor

Art Media – Puppetry

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March 21st was International Puppetry Day. Puppets are the best. There are so many ways to use puppets in the classroom:

  • The teacher can teach a concept through a puppet.
  • Students can make and perform puppets to demonstrate knowledge of subject matter or to perform an original written piece (possibly a book report) . Simply glue a stick onto the reverse side of an animal or person cutout and, voila, a puppet.
  • Speaking through a puppet may help a shy student come out of his/her shell.
  • Puppets have existed for over 2,000 years and are a part of the culture of many countries.  Find excellent puppetry overviews herehere and here. Puppetry can be added to a social studies unit for one particular country or a unit on countries around the world.
  • Jim Henson  was part of a “People Who Made a Difference” second grade social studies unit in my day. He made puppetry popular and innovated two new kinds of puppets. First he created a muppet which is a combination of a hand puppet and a marionette.  His Muppet Workshop also innovated  radio remote control puppets. (So, he could also be called an inventor.) The website, Wonderopolis, seems to agree. Find their excellent Henson reading for information post  here. He also made full body people puppets, a puppet concept which originated in Africa. Another contemporary puppet innovator is Julie Taymor.  The Lion King on Broadway is a giant puppet/mask show using variations of six different kinds of puppets and contains 232 puppets. She innovated the corporate puppet, where one puppeteer controls a flock of animals/birds. Watch this video of the circle of life to see the variety of puppets Taymor created. (Great to use in an animal unit. How many animals can the students identify?) The Broadway show, War Horse also contains some wonderful puppets.
  • Puppets can be made from recycled items as part of Earth Day activities or as an inexpensive way to make puppets. In this video, see Jim Henson, himself, demonstrate how to make simple puppets from things found around the house. His daughter, Cheryl Henson, has also written an excellent book entitled,The Muppets Make Puppets: How to Create and Operate Over 35 Great Puppets Using Stuff from Around Your House.  You can also find more puppet ideas on my Pinterest page. Love these puppets made by NYC lunch ladies to bring attention to all the trash created by lunches served on styrofoam trays.
  • Shadow puppets could be incorporated into a science unit on light and shadow. I’ve talked a bit about shadow puppets here.

Oh so many ways to use those puppets! I’m sure you could think of even more. I’d love to hear what you think. Simply click on the title of this post and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Hope to see you again real soon!

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