Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Puppets, part 1

In my last post I told you about the study programme I'm attending and I'm back with my first subject review. 

a. k. a. the part of the study programme that actually proved to be useful for teaching English to young learners. Not only did we learn to make different types of puppets for different purposes ourselves, we also learned how to use them properly. Even though I had been working with puppets before as puppets are often YLE course components, I can truly say I learned a lot in this course.

There are many types of puppets: hand or glove puppets, finger puppets, rod puppets, shadow puppets, marionettes (string puppets) and others. Puppets can assume different roles in a classroom. You can use a puppet as a host puppet (for motivation, discipline, special occasions such as celebrations etc.) or as a part of a puppet show (to act out stories). Regardless of what role your puppet assumes, here are some basic guidelines:

  • Your puppet should face its audience (your students) at all times.
  • Keep the puppet’s head down as it needs to make eye contact.
  • Puppets don’t need a special voice or a distinctive accent, but it might add to the puppet's "character".
  • Think about your puppet’s character - how it will act and what it will say. It’s better when they have emotions and act in character.
  • If you're visible while using the puppet, try to look at the puppet when it's speaking. Don't make eye contact with students (easier said then done, trust me).
  • You might consider giving your puppets a steady "home" somewhere in the classroom.
  • If you're using your puppet as a host puppet, give it a name, a personality, a language (even if you don't always use English in your classroom, your puppet definitely should!), a voice and a home. Also, the puppet does not need to be present the whole time. Use it for specific purposes only: greeting, singing, asking questions, error correction etc. 
  • When your classroom gets too loud, hide the puppet or put it back in its home, as "it doesn't like noise/is scared". This way a puppet can also help you maintain order in your classroom.

If you're interested in using puppets in your classroom and you want to explore the topic further, there is a lot of material available online. Here's a page I found useful: CLICK

And here are some photos of me in my classroom, using a puppet I made myself. More on making puppets in my next ZGUČAN blog post!



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