I'm no drama expert, but give me a puppet and suddenly I can hold a floor. It is the same for children, often the most quiet of children will suddenly come alive and grow in confidence when talking through a puppet. There is something about a puppet that gives you freedom to be who and what you want to be, to speak in a voice that is not your own and to speak with confidence.
Through puppets, children feel empowered to speak and behave on behalf of the character they are portraying. Children can pick up a puppet, begin speaking in a different voice, and quickly adopt the personality of the character they are portraying. (Often this personality is very different from his or her own). Children can also take part in performances in which the teacher acts as narrator, telling the story while pausing for actions and dialogue to be performed by the child’s puppet. The opportunities for fun and learning through puppets are unlimited.
In number agency children are only too happy to become the villain, they also speak with great confidence to the puppet. Puppets are playful and unthreatening, they can be given any personality and will not judge :)
When I first started number agents the villains were simply represented by a static image. Children responded well to this, but their reaction to the new puppet villains this year were beyond fantastic. I must film them sometime, but when the villain comes out the children absolutely come alive, the puppet sparks their imagination and they are enthralled. The puppets have given a totally new level of excitement and play to our number agency.
Given that the puppet villains have been so successful I am going to trial having puppet heroes next year. Believe it or not the children will listen to and interact with a puppet more readily than the teacher. I am hoping that setting up a puppet as a talk move expert and as a professor to work through strategies with us will add a deeper dimension to this side of agency.
The other beauty of the puppets is that if the villains are left out while children are playing children will quickly go into role as these puppets and so maths comes alive again through their play.
Puppets don't just work well in agency, in fact I am a bit of a puppet addict and a range of puppets are readily available for the children to use during play based times. It is often the newest children that spend the most time with them just storytelling and making up a game with the puppet. Puppets are a great social aide, often sparking lovely friendships between children...the puppet is the go between.
I taught health this year through puppets and loved it. I purchased the puppet family from Kmart and made up an empathy family...their was a lovely backstory to the family and it brought a lovely depth to our learning about friendship and feelings. Those puppets often spend time out in the playground with our children.
The Gruffalo is my best friend at writing time....he helps to teach writing and shares time with me during writing workshops....the children respond beautifully to him.
I also have a spark of an idea for next year filming a journey of a child learning to write using the puppet, I'll them show these short videos to help explain the process of learning to write. The puppet will use a growth mindset to help him/her with his/her writing and will speak out loud about what they are doing and remembering as they learn to write.
Puppets have a huge place in my Play based classroom. They are absolutely wonderful for bringing learning to life and for inspiring confidence and imagination in children and something I couldn't do without. If you are not using puppets yet, maybe it is something you could add to your classroom? I can promise you will not regret it!
This is not one of my puppets...but I so want him isn't he gorgeous!
Lol - The villains as caught on our agency security cameras...