Puppets Make Perfect Teacher Assistants!

Hand puppets, like Little Bear, can help children learn more than languages.

“Bebe needs help learning Spanish.”

Mid-Week Focus this week takes Attentionology readers to the wonderful world of puppets.

Puppets make perfect teacher assistants!

Here’ s the most important tip that teachers need to know about using puppets as teaching assistants…

…It’s easy to do!

Small or tall, puppets instantly catch kids’ attention. Why?

The answers are many…

…Puppets are colorful, fun, funny, animated (in a teacher’s hand), life-like (with a teacher’s “puppet” voices), and lovable.

All it takes to bring a puppet to life is a little bit of hand action and a voice that’s different from your own.

No professional theater training is required!

Try these easy, magical teaching tricks with a hand puppet:

* Hold a hand puppet behind a book to hide your arm and talk to it as if it’s alive.

* Give the puppet a name and introduce it to the class.

* Explain how the puppet is part of your teaching program at the moment or how the puppet relates to helping children learn.

For example, “Bebe, ” the little brown bear you see in my blog pic above, is “having trouble learning to speak Spanish.” Children who struggle with mastering Spanish will instantly relate to “Bebe.” The puppet is a masterful teacher’s assistant!

Kids love to help puppets in need…

* One of the best tricks to use with puppets is to ask children to kindly help a character like “Bebe” with its learning.

This approach is especially helpful to kids who need to build skills, confidence and self-esteem. Puppets can be so reassuring when a teacher makes them show appreciation and love!

Lean toward a puppet to "hear" what it's saying and even cradle a puppet who needs "help." Then slip the puppet back on your hand.

Lean toward a puppet to “hear” what it’s saying and even cradle a puppet who needs “help.” Then slip the puppet back on your hand.

If you’re not comfortable making a hand puppet “talk” with a puppet voice, use this trick:

* Lean toward the puppet as if you’re having trouble hearing what it’s saying. Pretend it’s talking to you in a whisper. Turn to your class and explain what the puppet just “said.” The kids will be all ears to hear what the puppet “shared” with you!

I’ve used puppets successfully with no book to hide my arm and without hiding my face from the audience.

Look at the way I’m holding the little lamb in my blog pic here.

When I make “Lilly-O” “talk” to my students (or campers, or church school group, or…you get the idea that you can use puppets in any children’s program) I look at the lamb, not at the class.

When I’m speaking in my regular voice, I look directly at the children.

The children follow my eyes so when “Lilly-O’s” voice is “on” the children are focused on the little fur ball; they don’t care that my mouth is moving to make the lamb speak.

Be aware that puppets as teaching tools can be effective with a wide age range of children, depending on the puppets you choose to use and the “dialog” you create for interacting with your students.

“Bebe,” “Lilly-O” and other small animal puppets are obviously appropriate for the early grades.

One teacher who attended one of my Puppetry for Teachers workshop some years ago was most impressed by the way puppets could reach his elementary level special needs students.

Richard Labadia said, “Children with special educational needs should be taught in a manner that makes what they learn useful and part of the world they live in directly.

This style of ‘functional’ teaching enables these children to grow and become an important part of today’s society.”

Labadia also described how effectively puppets beat boredom in educational settings that include special needs kids.  “Puppets can teach a concept over and over, and still get a response,” he asserted.

All elementary school-age children seem to feel free to communicate with puppets. That’s why puppets make perfect teacher assistants!

Enjoy the satisfaction of watching your kids learn your curriculum more effectively, learn about themselves as they interact with your puppet, and have fun in the process!

Please send comments about how you use puppets as a teacher’s assistant.

Look for Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers on Monday.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
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