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Teaching with paper bag puppets
What do Pinocchio, Sesame Street, Muppets, Howdy Doody, Yoda and Lamb Chop have in common? They are all puppets! Puppets are a popular form of entertainment that is used to animate different ideas to an audience. Puppets have been popular throughout history and with children and adults alike.
Paper bag puppets
Puppets can be a vital teaching tool in the classroom. There are many kinds of puppets that can be used: sock puppets, marionettes, finger puppets, rod puppets, shadow puppets and so many more. Perhaps the easiest kind of puppet that can be used with a teacher’s limited resources is the paper bag puppet. You can easily pick up small paper bags at your local store and draw a face or attach cut outs to make a puppet.
Did you know that each hoof is in fact a nail and that a horse walks on its fingernails?
Puppets in class
There are several ways that a teacher can use paper bag puppets in a classroom. One way that you can use a puppet to instruct is through a narrative. You can write (or find) a play with 2 or 3 characters that work together to illustrate a concept. Using handmade paper bag puppets, these characters can discuss and teach a concept your students. Another way to use puppets in the classroom is if you have one main puppet and you as a teacher can interact with this puppet, asking it questions and holding a regular conversation, all the while instructing the on looking students. You can also have your students create their own puppets. For example: younger students learning the alphabet can create puppets dealing with a specific letter, Otto the octopus, they can then use their puppet to repeat the sound that the Octopus makes (short o). To change things up in the classroom, students can use their puppets to answer questions posed by the teacher. They can use their regular voice or an animated voice of their puppet. This not only gives your shy students a chance to break out of their shell but it also helps your students to channel their acting abilities by using a puppet to communicate their ideas.
Learning to read
One important part of learning how to read is learning how to read fluently. Fluency requires that a student uses inflections in their voice, uses different voices for different characters; all in all making reading an interesting thing to listen too. Paper bag puppets can help a student practice fluency in reading. A student can make a puppet and have the puppet (through the help of the student) be a certain character in the book, voicing the parts only of that character while the student reads all the other parts. It may be helpful beforehand to highlight all the parts in the story that the puppet would read, so that the student will know when to use the puppet. To practice fluency, students can also put on a puppet show imitating different voices of different characters. Older students can write a puppet show, create the puppets and scenery and then perform their show for younger students. This would not only be a good practice in fluency, but also a good writing assignment.
How to make a paper bag horse puppet
The possibilities are endless when you use puppets. And with the paper bag puppet being cost effective, there is no reason why you should not use puppets throughout the year to teach.
Place the paper bag with the bottom of the bag towards you.
Put white glue on the long part of the bag and on the part hidden by the bottom of the bag.
Glue the body of the horse in place.
Glue the front legs on either side of the upper body.
Glue the hooves at the ends of the legs.
Lift the bottom of the bag and glue the lower jaw on the body.
Glue the upper jaw of the horse in place on the the flap under the bottom of the bag.
Glue the head of the horse in place, properly aligning the jaw with the jaw parts that are already there.
Glue the mane on the top of the head.
Glue the ears on either side of the mane. Do not hesitate to give them slightly different orientations to give a little character to your horse.
Then glue the inside of the ears centered in the ears and glue the eyes in place.
Note: I used a contrasting color to highlight the inside of the ears.
Teeth can add a comic effect to this puppet.
Cut the top edge of a Styrofoam cup.
Measure a length slightly shorter than the jawline and trim it so that the height tapers off on each side.
Draw teeth with a permanent black marker on the piece of Styrofoam.
With a glue gun, glue the teeth in place on the edge of the upper jaw.