Teaching with Puppets in the Early Childhood Classroom

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Give it a Personality

Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten children love to be entertained with puppets. Before using a puppet with the class, make a plan. Select, discover a voice and create a personality for a particular puppet. For example, choose a puppet with a large head and facial features that will portray a commanding character, someone the kids can look up to and respect. The use ofpuppets in the early childhood classroom can be used for teaching proper behavior and making good choices. This is a very good idea for the beginning of school, when setting classroom and playground rules. Morning circle would be a good time to “talk” to the children and remind them of the rules.

Know Your Manners

Manners could be taught by a “refined” looking puppet, perhaps a dog wearing a suit. Puppets may be used as part of the lesson plan to introduce a new letter and sound, such as for the letter “p”, you would use a pony. This idea could also be used to count and teach numbers.

Feeling Shy

Puppets may be used to help a shy child feel comfortable and express his or her feelings, problems may be solved, arguments and disagreements may be resolved with the use of a puppet. A crying child may be comforted and an unruly child could be given an opportunity to make good choices, just by using a puppet.

Kids Make Their Own

Kindergarten children are also entertained with puppets. Share an idea or two and let them make their own puppets. Set a theme or let the kids be creative, by having materials available. Puppets may be made from a sock, cardboard tube, felt or a paper bag. Finger puppets can be created by wrapping a piece of paper around the finger and taping it. Materials such as wiggly eyes, yarn for hair, construction paper, stickers, crayons, paint, buttons, or any items suitable for making the puppets, should be readily available.

Design a Puppet Theater

Provide a large packing carton and allow the children to design a puppet theater. The puppet and theater project could extend for a few weeks as a center activity. The children may create a short puppet play and perform for another class. This not only teaches them to work as a team, but allows them to feel proud of their accomplishments, problem solve and build self-esteem. These are vital elements needed in the growth of a healthy child.

Promote Positive Behavior

Your local church may have a puppet ministry that could be invited to the school to promote positive behavior. Local groups may promote drug or fire safety. In the event of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, or an unfortunate incident involved in the school, special puppeteer groups are used to counsel the children.Puppets are a helpful tool used as a step to promote literacy, motivate expressive art, such as play acting, and even a tool for counseling.

Many of the ideas in this article I have personally used and often referred to a wonderful book, Early Childhood Experiences in Language Arts, by Jeanne M. Machado.