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Puppet ideas

Puppetry is the art of bringing inanimate objects to life. Children do this instinctively, when they pick up an action figure-or a spoon, or a piece of broccoli and give it voice and movement. It can be a powerful tool for stimulating the imagination and a very exciting way to explore a wide range of cross curricular themes with your class.

Making puppets with children should always lead to lots of play and story making. Allow the children the time and space to animate what they’ve made and try and provide exciting settings and places for the playing to happen in. Don’t be shy about operating puppets for and with your class as well  A discussion beforehand about you all knowing that its pretend might help but don’t underestimate the power they hold with your class!

Finger puppets

Make simple finger puppets using cut up children’s gloves and stick on shapes with your class let them play at a retelling of the story in their own words.

The story can include narration, the children making up their own descriptions, and deciding for themselves what they think the characters would say.

The pupils could be encouraged to think about how their character looks, what kind of voice they might have for each different animal.

Children could work in pairs to play out the story together or the story could be performed on a table with different groups being responsible for different scenes of the play.

Shadow puppets

Here are some simple ideas you might want to try out in your classroom.  These techniques can be used:

  • By you in the telling of established stories
  • By your class in recreating moments from their favourite stories
  • By you and your class to create new stories

Use an overhead projector and white sheet stretched or hung to create the light source and screen.

Experiment with the following to create images on the screen:

  • Everyday objects, such as beads, string, plastic bottles. Each object has an inherent quality of movement, see if you can find it. Experiment with lifting them closer to the light source.
  • Coloured cellophane. Overlay different colours. Use them to suggest the quality of water
  • Sand. If possible place this on a Perspex sheet / Pyrex tray so as not to scratch the screen of the projector. Roll the sand in an even thin layer and then draw with a slightly wet finger. This could be used to create the outline of buildings such as a castle or palace, or to create the skyline to an ancient city.
  • Fingers. Use your fingers as puppets. Move them against the screen of the projector. Experiment with different types of finger movement to suggest different characteristics.
  • People. Stand between the projector and white sheet. The closer you get to the projector the larger your shadow will be.  For a more expressive outline always work in profile. Experiment with the different shapes and sizes you can get your shadow to make.
  • Puppets. To create simple puppets, use pipe cleaners or wire to make simple figures of people.  Fill in the gaps with coloured cellophane.  Practice moving them on the screen of the projector. Provide voices for the characters. Allow them to be hot seated by the class.
  • Paper. Experiment with cutting and ripping paper and placing on the screen.  Use to create environments such as a cave.

Top tip: Try using your IWB for shadow play. Try ‘found’ objects from the classroom as well as 2D ’puppet’ cutouts.

Simple shape puppets

Give the children paper bags or paper plates and ask them to create a face on one side using a selection of pre cut shapes such as circles, triangles and squares. They can use the shapes to represent the features of the animal’s faces. One side could be the hen and the other could become another animal in the Little Red Hen story. Attach a lolly stick, or similar to the back of the plate near the bottom and you have a simple hand held animal puppet/mask.

Letter puppets

Draw and then cut out a large letter h on stiff paper or card.  Stick two yellow triangles at the top of the stalk to be a beak two circles one slightly larger white one glued to the top near the beak glue a smaller black circle in it to make the eye. A series of red triangles can be stuck in an arc above the eye for the comb. You now have a h for hen.

Try doing the same with C for cat, M for mouse, p for pig and d for dog.

1. You will need paper cut out shapes of varying sizes and colours, triangles, circles squares etc.
2. Glue
3. A paper plate or bag
4. Lolly sticks or similar
5. Sticky tape


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