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PUPPETS CAN TEACH
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Paper Bag PuppetAlmost anything you can do - puppets can do, too!  They can dance and talk and sing and jump and perform science experiments and read... as a matter of fact, they can even teach - just like you!  Puppets can be a teaching tool that enhance and stimulate the creative and cognitive abilities of children. Puppets can aid the teaching of key concepts in such areas as language, mathematics, social studies, science, nutrition, music, movement, and drama.

There are 6 Printable Pages with Puppet Patterns available for this theme.
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  1. Paper Bag Hand Puppet Dog / Cat
  2. Tooth Puppet
  3. Hand Puppet Emotions 
  4. Sock Puppets -Teacher Made 
  5. Pilgrim Man Puppet
  6. Pilgrim Woman Puppet

3 Puppet Tips
1. Use puppets to help introduce or reinforce a concept or activity.
Just hold the puppet on your hand as you sit or stand with a group of children.  Look toward the puppet as you speak while you hold the puppet still.  When the puppet replies, move its mouth or body as it speaks to the children.
**Remember to hold it still when you or another puppet speaks.

2. Puppets are primarily used to stimulate language and to foster language related experiences.  With older preschool & kindergarten children, after introducing a puppet character, you can offer it to a child and continue your conversation as the child responds as the puppet.

3.  Why do children always begin to hit other puppets when they first have one on their hands?  Don't tolerate this behavior and remove the puppet from the child's hand until he or she is ready to learn how to use the puppet correctly.  This seems to be a universal problem, so don't be surprised - be prepared!

4.  If you are beginning to work with puppets try working with a small group in an independent center or in a teacher directed activity. Introduce the puppet to the child/children as you hand the child the puppet. For example, "Donna, this is Mr. Green. He planted the carrot in the song we just sang." 
OR ask the child/children in your small group to give the puppet a nome then begin the song or activity.

  • Teach the child to hold the puppet erect and to move only when speaking. the child may created a special puppet voice or use a normal speaking voice.  Generally, small puppets should have "smaller voices" so that others that are larger will sound larger. Encourage clear and distinct voices so that others can understand the puppets.
  • If the puppets hands or mouth are movable, show the child/children how to operate the puppet and provide practice time.
  • Some children may be afraid of puppets, or hesitant to interact with them. Respect this, and do not force participation. Show them that is really just a person behind the puppet.

Activities With Puppets
This Make a Puppet poem is from Cathy A. who generously shares her entire
Fun With Puppets unit with the Preschool Rainbow.

Make a Puppet
by Trica J. Dreher 

Needle, thread, 
Or just plain glue. 
Sticks, socks, 
And paper, too. 

Buttons, yarn, 
Some old string! 
Just about 
Anything. 

Make a puppet 
The way you choose. 
Use your imagination 
And you can't lose!

All the World's a Stage
Patti G. helps the kids express themselves through their puppets during this preschool puppet activity.

Materials:
~ tongue depressors
 ~ stickers with facial expressions
 ~ kleenex boxes
 ~ tempura paint
 ~ markers optional

Description: The kleenex boxes need to be prepped with the bottoms being cut off 
then the children paint them inside and out. When dry they lay the boxes on their 
side to make a stage for their puppets.  The puppets are the tongue depressors with the faces on them.  They can also color them to add clothes or hair etc. Some scrap booking sets have the clothing etc. that fit the tongue depressors quite well. If you can lay the box on it's side by the edge of a table, the children can use their puppets just behind the table so it looks like they are on stage!

The children then are each given a small amount of time to show us who is in their 'stage'.  This gives them a chance to share their special people while using their stage.  I found this to be a very gentle way to have the shy kids come out, share and feel comfortable. The game we play with this activity is Punchinello.

Punchinello
(Group is standing in a circle)

Who goes there Punchinello little fellow
Who goes there Punchinello little dear
(the teacher points to a child who will then enter the circle)
What can you do Punchinello little fellow
What can you do Punchinello little dear
(the child then does an action)

We'll do it to Punchinello little fellow
We'll do it to Punchinello little dear
(the others in the circle do the action now too)
(the child now goes back out to the circle - it is the next child's turn)

This game takes a turn or two for the kids to get it, but it is greatly loved and 
always wanted to be repeated.

Comments: Try not to limit the children on the amount of puppets they make. I find that the more 'troubled' children made the most puppets. 
 

I Am Special
Shannah S. has preschool and kindergarten children focus on their individual characteristics and learn how their individuality makes them special / unique. 

Materials: The book I Am Special by Max Lucado, construction paper, crayons, 
markers, scissors, glue, craft sticks. Optional: Cardboard box to make a puppet 
theater. 

Description: Read the book I Am Special at the beginning of class, possibly 
during circle time.  Discuss the book with the children to check for understanding.  Have each student choose a character that they liked the most or thought that was the most like them.  Give the students construction paper and the other materials listed and have the children create their own puppet.  After the children are done making their puppets, set up a puppet theater and let the children who want to, present a puppet show using their puppets. 

I Can!  By Peter and Katie Stewart 
(from "Fun With Puppets" unit by Cathy A.) 

I can use my imagination 
To set a fantasy free 
I can perform and be someone else 
The inspiration comes from me! 

There are places I’ll explore 
That I may never get to see. 
There are people I can play 
Who I may never get to be. 
Not tomorrow, but today 
I can through dramatic play! 

I can be a pirate 
With my dirty, strong mates. 
Through my spyglass I look for treasure 
As I sail the seas and straights. 

I can be a princess 
Beautiful and fair 
The only entrance to my tower 
Is to climb up my long hair. 

I can be a fairy 
And know how to fly 
I’ll wear a dress made of petals 
Drink honey and never cry. 

I can be a dish 
And run away with a spoon. 
Or a genie in a lamp 
Or ride a unicorn past the moon. 

I can dance around a tribal fire 
Or daintily sip my tea. 
Or I can make people cry, clap, and laugh 
The inspiration comes from me. 

And after I've been every thing 
I can possibly pretend to be 
I can realize how special 
It is to be me!


Paper Bag People Puppets
Encourage youngsters to use expressive language skills as they describe their own puppets during and this preschool puppet activity from Dee

Materials: Lunch paper bag, yarn, construction paper and glue. 

Description: Precut eyes from construction paper in various colors. Provide yarn for hair. Ask children to glue on yarn "hair" that matches their hair color.  Glue on construction eyes, nose, mouth and ears.  We had a child that wore glasses so we made eyeglasses by using a pipe cleaner and attaching with glue. Children take turns with their puppets in front of the group describing their puppet and explaining things 
about themselves. 

Easy Puppet Ideas 
Cathy A. shares this list of 12 quick & easy to create puppets. 

1.   Place stickers on your fingers 
2.   Draw faces on your fingers 
3.   Paper Bag (lunch bag) puppets 
4.   Tape craft sticks onto pictures to make puppets 
5.   Sock puppets – draw a face on sock.  Scrunch up fabric, holding 
       excess material inside of palm of hand, creating a “mouth” 
6.   Mitten/garden glove puppets 
7.   Medical suppliers sell single latex finger covers.  Draw a face on them 
8.   Novelty pencil eraser toppers  (place on fingers) 
9.   3 Finger puppets (holes for “legs” – 2 fingers become “legs” of 
        puppet, middle finger will control the “head”) 
10. Spoon puppets  (draw face on back of plastic spoon. Wrap piece of 
      fabric around handle for ‘clothes’.  Add yarn hair.) 
11.  Decorate a round Styrofoam craft ball.  Dig out a hole for your 
      finger to go into (or put a craft stick into) 
12. Make a fist.  Draw a face on your curled thumb and first finger. 
      Move your thumb and slightly unclench fist to “talk” 

Ways to Enhance and Develop Your Puppetry Skills:
 Change your voice! 
 Use movement with the puppet! 
 Be silly! 
 Practice! 
 Involve the children! 
 Watch a teacher that uses and is good with puppets 
 Coordinate the movement of your puppet's mouth when he is “talking” 
Sign up for a puppeteering course 
 

Me Puppet
Mariam contributes this craft project with the aim, "To develop fine motor skills, reinforce learning parts of the face and body." 

Materials: Paper plates, mirror, markers, paint, 4 strips of paper (2 short for arms, 2 long for legs), paper, child safety scissors, glue or a stapler (for teachers). 

Description: 
1.  Ask the children to draw parts of their face in the paper plate, using the 
     markers.  It would be great if the children would have a chance to look at their 
    face in the mirror. 
2.  Give children 4 strips of paper (2 short and 2 long). Ask your children to fold 
     the strips alternately back and front (horizontal side). this fold will give the 
     paper strip a "bouncy" look. 
3. Ask the children to make their hand and foot prints on a piece of paper. 
4. Teacher, or if the children can, cut the hand and foot prints according to it's 
    shape. 
5. Staple the 2 short strips of paper on the side of their paper plate face, these 
     will be the puppets arms. 
6. Staple the 2 long strips of paper at the bottom of their paper plate face, these 
     will be the puppets legs 
7. Finally, staple or glue their hand prints to their arms and their foot prints to 
    their legs. 
8. You can put a strip of paper behind the paper plate, where the child could insert 
    his or her hands to make the puppet move! 

Comments: This activity can be modified to other age groups. Ideally this activity should not be completed in one day. The hand and foot prints should be dry before they are attached to the arms and legs 
 

Class Puppet
Encourage awareness of body parts with this puppet project from Julianne S

Materials: Large pillow, balloon, old stockings, newspaper, shirt, gloves, socks, wool,  felt marker, and safety pins 

Description: As a group, the children identify our main body parts and discuss what we can use to make a class puppet. Teachers provide the materials the children 
have suggested and as a group make the puppet. Blow up the balloon and pin onto 
the pillow. Children scrunch up the newspaper and put in the stockings for the arms and legs then pin them onto the pillow. Put on the shirt, gloves and socks and make 
the face on the balloon using the wool for hair, and draw on the eyes, a mouth and nose. We give our puppet a name and he becomes a part of our class. The children take him into the home corner and give him books to read. 

Comments: Children love to play with our puppet and like to see any changes in him, for example, if he is moved, wearing a new shirt, reading a different book etc. 
 

You don't have a puppet theater?
Cathy A. offers several ideas for creating a puppet theater.

1.  Make one from a large cardboard box.  Cut one panel off of the box, so that it 
    has 3 sides, and will “stand up”.  Cut a square out of the front panel of the box. 
    Paint and decorate.  Add curtains, if possible. 

2. Turn a table on it's side and have children kneel behind it. 

3.  Make one from a shoe box for craft stick puppets.  Make slots the length of the 
     box for the craft sticks to move. 

4.  Use a half door or a half wall, having children get behind it. 
 

In writing a puppet show…
 Define who… what… where 
 Give your characters personalities 
 Come up with a problem to solve 
 Have a beginning, middle and end 
 Don't be concerned with perfection 
 Have fun!!!!


Puppet Theater
Mary C. suggests this teacher made Puppet Theater which provides a stage for many dramatizations. 

Materials: Large appliance box, construction paper and or paint, and puppets. 

Description: I took a large appliance box, covered it with colored construction 
paper, but it could be painted. Cut a hole in front for a stage, and cut the back out so the children can get inside to perform with their puppets. We read them a story 
that is familiar to them and then let them take turns acting out the parts.  It has really opened up some of the very shy children because they are hidden behind 
the curtain and so they don't have a problem acting with the puppet. 

Comments: We let the Puppet Theater stay up and the children use it during free play. 
 

Easy Santa Puppets
During this puppet activity from Genie M. children can make a Santa puppet to use while singing Christmas songs, poems, etc. 

Materials: Wooden spoon (the type that come with individual ice cream cups), 
cotton balls, wiggly eyes, red construction paper or felt and glue sticks. 

Description: These are simple to make, yet the children love them.  Give each 
child two cotton balls.  Have them pull and stretch them to make Santa's beard 
with one cotton ball and his hair with the other one.  It doesn't really matter 
what shape the balls end up.  It is still cute.  Then have the children glue 
Santa's hair and beard onto the front of the wooden spoon.  Have them glue the 
wiggly eyes in the center of the face.  The children can cut a Santa Hat out of 
red construction paper or felt and glue it on the top of the hair.  For 
reinforcement, I glued a triangle of red construction paper in the back.  The 
children can then glue 1/3 of a cotton ball at the top of the Santa hat. 

Comments: My four year olds made these. They loved them.  When my eleven year old came home from school, he wanted to make one too! 
 

Father Christmas Puppet
While creating this puppet from Angie B. talk about christmas and everything associated with it then try the Christmas Song activity below. 

Materials: 
Red Felt 
Cotton wool 
Red paper 
Double yogurt pot 
Black thin paper 
Glue or tape 

Description: Cut out a red felt triangle for his hat,  two black paper circles for eyes 
& a red paper tongue. Glue or tape the hat on top of the yogurt pot and then stick on a ball of cotton for his pompom and a little cotton for the edging of his hat. Stick 
the eyes on and inside the gap between the yogurt pot compartments stick in his 
tongue and then stick on his beard using the cotton wool. The children put their fingers inside the compartments and making him move like he is talking. 

Comments: The children I have done this craft with really enjoyed doing and it 
actually developed group discussions on Father Christmas etc. 
 

Christmas Song
Barbara D. uses puppets to help children recognize positional words.

Materials: Song Where is Santa and 1 paper puppet of Santa for each child. 

Description: Introduce the song Where is Santa to the tune of Are You Sleeping?

Where is Santa? Where is Santa? 
Here I am.  Here I am. 
Merry, Merry Christmas 
Merry, Merry Christmas 
HO-HO-HO!
The children hide the Santa behind their backs for the Where is Santa? part and 
then bring him out front for the Here I am part. After you have sung this song several times and the children are familiar with the song introduce the circle activity. 

Talk about how Santa is BEHIND you and now he wants to be somewhere else.  You 
can either tell them where to put Santa, or have them take turns telling everyone else where to put Santa. 

Do as  many of the positional positions as possible. In front of, over your head, 
over your hand, over your leg, etc. On / in:  your lap, your hand,  your shoe, etc. Under (your bottom, elbow, chin, leg), between, away from, next to, beside,  etc. 

Comments: They really love this activity and especially enjoy when they can tell 
everyone else where to put Santa.  It is great for them to use positional words on their own.  Encourage them to use the words, not just show everyone. 
 

2 Poems for Transitions
Cathy A. offers these two poems that help as young children transition to 
circle or group puppet activities. 

Puppet Time
by Trica J. Dreher 

It's puppet time 
Oh, how fun! 
I can pretend 
To be anyone! 

Puppets 
by Trica J. Dreher 

Puppets, puppets 
I cannot wait! 
I love pretending! 
I think it's great!


Stick Puppets
Preschoolers explore spatial concepts and theme related vocabulary with easy stick puppets from Kara

Materials: Die-cuts or pictures of theme related items (heart, bear, pig, pumpkin, etc.), popsicle sticks, glue or tape. 

Description: I do this for every theme.  Each child tapes a die cut shape or picture to a craft stick. Then we get in our circle and sing the following song to the tune of If You are Happy and you Know It. 

Put your pumpkin in front of you, in front of you. 
Put your pumpkin in front of you, in front of you. 
Put your pumpkin in front of you 
And shake it all around 
Put your pumpkin in front of you, in front of you. 
Then sing over, behind, next to, under, around..
The kids have to place their stick puppet in the correct place. 

Easy Stick Puppets  "5 Little Pumpkins"
With this idea from Louise S. teachers can craft quick & easy stick puppets for Halloween and help children with counting and number values as they act out this lovely Halloween rhyme. (The rhyme is in the next activity) 

Materials: Five pumpkins, five popsicle sticks and masking tape. 
Instead of using regular construction paper I found some really cute pumpkin 
face party plates. Just tape them to the popsicle sticks and you have stick 
puppets. 

Description: I call on 5 children at a time to come up and hold a pumpkin stick 
puppet. As we sing the little song each child holds up his / her pumpkin puppet. The 
children really enjoy this activity and want to repeat is over & over again. 
 

5 Little Pumpkins
Susi offers this fun fingerplay rhyme for a Halloween them. 

Materials: Glove with Velcro attached at each finger 
5 little pumpkins (I use orange and green felt) 

5 Little Pumpkins
(hold up gloved hand with all pumpkins attached)

5 little pumpkins on Halloween Night 
The first one said: Its a Trick or Treat Delight 
The second one said: I am glowing all night long 
The third one said: Lets sing a Halloween Song 
The fourth one said: And this is how it goes.. 
The fifth one said: 'We are five happy Pumpkins all sitting in a row' 
 

Comments: Its a fun poem for Halloween and the children really enjoy it. They usually ask for you to do it twice.. 
 

Paper Plate Jack-o-Lantern Hand Puppet
Craft these hand puppets from Kim B. for your Halloween Theme. 

Materials: 
2 regular size paper plates 
Orange tempra paint 
Black tempra paint 
Stapler and staples (for adult use) 
Paintbrushes 

Description: Children paint both paper plates with orange tempra paint. Let dry. 
Draw a jack-o-lantern face on one plate. Paint in the eyes, nose, and mouth 
with black tempra paint. Adults Staple the 2 plates together, leaving the bottom edge open to form the area where the hand fits. 
 

Community Helper Puppets
Louise B. suggests these puppets for children in kindergarten through grade 2 saying that "Each student will have a puppet that can be 'dressed' to symbolize a variety of community helpers." 

Materials: Old white (or light colored) children's socks, googly eyes, wool or suitable materials for hair, liquid glue that is easy to use, assortment of small doll clothes or teacher/parent made costume for different community workers 

Description: Children will all make a basic body shape with a sock, eyes, hair etc. Then using doll clothes dress their sock puppet to depict a community helper (dentist, doctor, firefighter, policeman, baker, teacher, etc.). 

Ask for donations of materials, accessories etc. and look through flea markets for specialty items to accessorize the costume (glasses, book, stethoscope, bowl/wooden spoon, miniature pieces available in craft stores etc.). Students can then perform using their puppets in a Puppet Theater. 

Comments: Be patient, you won't get every child's puppet completed at once. Use parent helpers. You may even have a parent who will sew little costumes for the children's puppets!! 
 

Making Bear Puppets that your Fingers Walk
Stimulate creativity and imagination as preschool and kindergarten children practice cutting skills and develop small muscles when they make their puppets move during this puppet activity by Kenna Marie D. She says, "I've successfully used this project 
with physically handicapped children by giving more assistance and gearing the project to their abilities." 

Materials: Construction paper, scissors, markers or crayons, yarn, glue or glue stick. 
and Big Imaginations!! 

Description: To make these bear puppets, you start with a bear pattern, and have the 
child trace. Teachers assist the child in cutting it out. Then teachers assist the child 
in using crayons or markers as needed. Next, cut the holes for the fingers (these are the bear leg holes which are made to fit the fingers). Now decorate the bears. 

When the bear is decorated and everything is dry, teachers show the child/children how to put their fingers in and walk with the puppets, using their fingers as the bears legs. Lots of fun and laughter. It's fun to help the children play act with their very own unique bears which they have created. 

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