Puppets have a special place in the classroom of littles. Using a puppet in teaching may feel like another item to worry about or check off your ever-growing to-do list, however, when used correctly, they can be powerful to students. It’s as if you have a second teacher in the classroom, a separate being with separate ideas is what they see it as. Puppets to students are magical, even when they are old enough to know better of what they are and how they work, their little brains work in the way that they look at that inanimate object as an animate object with its own thoughts and feelings, even if they are all indirectly coming from you as the puppeteer.
Tips for using a puppet in the classroom:
- Use him as an example of good behaviors you want students to model.
- Use him as an example of common problems in the classroom such as trouble with a math problem. Later, when students run into the same problem, a great reminder for them would be how the puppet solved the problem.
- Use him as a new storyteller in the classroom.
- Let the puppet introduce new topics such as persuasive writing or reading non-fiction.
- Let the students use the puppet as a writing audience.
- Turn it into an art project and allow the students to create their own puppets.
Puppets have a big place in the classroom, whether he or she becomes a part of the classroom, or they are simply used in dramatic play for storytelling. The best part of puppets is that they can be as complicated and expensive as your limits allow, but also as simple as a sock with buttons glued on. They don’t care about the complexity of it, they just care about the magic behind it.
Do you use puppets in the classroom? What benefits do you see?
I am all for promoting a good read-aloud in every classroom from daycares to high school students. I know the power and lessons picture books can hold when you choose the right one. However, I am also aware that simply reading a picture book to students can become mundane and routine when done often, so here are a few tips on how to switch up how you share books with students.
- Felt board stories- For those that aren’t crafty (like me), check Etsy for links to buy sets of felt storyboard characters. Or grab a crafty friend or two to help you create fun sets yourself.
- YouTube videos of books- The majority of popular picture books have at least one YouTube video of someone reading the story. There are whole YouTube channels dedicated to read-aloud books, sometimes with music or discussions at the end.
- Vooks- This is a subscription for an animated book collection of popular picture books, however, last I checked it was offered free for teachers for one year. It seems worth checking out.
- Guest readers- For those parents, friends, and community members that are wanting to help in your classroom. How exciting would it be to have a REAL firefighter read a story about what firefighters do?
- Students draw as you read- Let their imaginations do a little work, ask them to illustrate the story as you read.
- The student reads- If you have students that are strong readers that wouldn’t mind a little time in the limelight, give them a chance to read their peers a quick story.
- Coloring pages that go along with the story- I distinctly remember in 2nd grade my teacher read aloud Charlotte’s Web while we colored pictures of pigs, mice, cows, goats, and spiders each day and we hung a few favorites around the room. It brought the story alive in a new way, especially as it became part of our classroom.
- Puppets- They don’t have to be extravagant. Put a sock with some button eyes over your hand to speak as the pigeon in Pigeon Drives The Bus and suddenly your student engagement skyrockets because it’s a little different and a little new.
- Act it out- Once the story is over, let a few students act out their interpretation of the story.
- Change Your Location- Changing up how the book is read seems to be the first idea of increasing engagement. However, changing something like location can amp up the excitement of the book as well. A dear friend of mine once brought her students outside bundled up and ready for a cool fall day while they sat under a big tree watching the falling leaves, and read aloud to them Fletcher And The Falling Leaves. What a magical way to have a story truly come alive for kids.
What fun ways do you switch up reading for your students? How else do you increase engagement in your students while reading?