Finger Puppets Are Cross-Circular And Cross-Cultural!

Finger Puppets Are Cross-Circular And Cross-Cultural!

 Puppet Show

An example lesson plan by Ardyn Baia

The lesson: “Hello is Minu There?”

The dialogue:  A simple phone call to Minu, often with some stimulating pizza and/or homework action thrown in.

The mission: Creating some world class finger puppet shows. ( Emmy or Oscars anticipated).

The unfortunate colleague roped into play finger puppet Gina for demo-video:  Willemien Teacher ( who should honestly think about going pro-puppeteer)

The level: Cute 5th graders with a lot of spunk.

The result : Some funky finger puppets, classic student bashfulness from being on camera, a handful of prima donnas’ who took their sweet time rehearsing a five line script …and of course, fun!

As a big believer of incorporating the arts into my English lessons I got really excited with the prospect of making puppet shows. Anyone who knows me knows, I have a (strange but cool) obsession with puppet making. Of course, our grade 5 class only needed a ten minute final project so making any life-size puppets wasn’t really ideal (although I would have had so much fun) but little paper finger puppets were an excellent alternative. Text book in hand, with instructions to “follow the vocab!”, I took to my drawing board to sketch out some easy to colour and cut out finger puppets. Next all I needed was to cut them out and create a simple worksheet for ‘script writing’. My co-teacher and I spent a lesson revising the vocabulary we had learnt during the unit and then for our final assessment we started the script writing. I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of my little script writers had written some more creative scenarios, going ‘off-textbook’ as they say. For example, a pair of boys wrote about Chicken and Cat having pizza with Dog, a girl group told their tale of how Sally and Gina baked cookies and cake and a pizza all in the same afternoon and finally, I couldn’t leave out the story of Mouse One and Mouse Two who bravely ate pizza with Cat.

After writing scripts we devoted a separate lesson to puppet making, show rehearsing and filming. My puppet show lesson couldn’t have taken off without the help of Willemien. Willemien is a fellow co-worker and Native English teacher at my school who, after no bribery or blackmail (shocking, I know) helped me to create a demo finger puppet show. I must say, we are certainly natural finger puppeteers, Oscars, Emmys, Tonys – here we come.

After showcasing our fabulous episode of “Saturday Night Plans” the 5th graders were keen to start colouring their puppets and fitting them to fingers. As a treat to the more creative thinkers I drew props and made special chicken, mouse and cat puppets. A pair of boys had me at their desk busily sketching up baseball hats, clubs and mitts for their “Major League” themed scenario.

As soon as the puppets and scripts were rehearsed I grabbed them pair by pair to record their skits outside in the hallway. Although some of my precious puppeteers froze up, the speaking and writing aims were achieved. It was one of my most enjoyable lessons so far and I am eager to use finger puppets again for a final project and recommend it to all ESL teachers out there – even ya’ll in high school.

All videos can be found on YouTube. 

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