Using puppets with children is an absolute must. The shyest most unsettled children will always identify with puppets! From babies upwards, it always fascinates me how children engage and even communicate with puppets. I’m sure they know they aren’t real but children don’t really care about that and I find it really helps them express their emotions – even the ones who are a little boisterous. Here are some ways you can use puppets for songs and rhymes
Over the years my puppet collection has grown. I love puppets and have quite a lot ranging from finger puppets to pop up puppets to larger hand puppets. I mainly have animal puppets as I prefer those but it doesn’t matter because all puppets have feelings you know!
Puppets are engaging
If you have ever used puppets with children you will know how much children interact with them, are fascinated by them (even if they don’t want to go near or touch them) and believe in them. Puppets make things come alive, they can show emotion and feel, they can perform many actions and often surprise us. Puppets are great if you are having problems getting children to engage with you and let’s face it some children do have preferences as to which adults they like or don’t like. Puppets are a winner in breaking down barriers they are also an excellent resource for teaching music.
There are different types of puppets and it is worth getting a selection to use: pop-ups, finger puppets, hand puppets, living puppets (people) and marionettes. I mainly use the first three listed as they are easy to use and children can also use them. I rarely use people puppets however I do have one!
One of my puppets is a pop up mouse (he lives in cheese) I use this when we are singing songs with two pitches to show the high and low pitch. The kids love watching the mouse pop up and I try to get the older children to pop up in time with the mouse and hide away again when I am singing. They can also have a go at operating Mister Mouse themselves as the other children follow. This is a great activity for finding out whether a child has understood the concept of high and low and having them demonstrate means they are solidifying their knowledge – teaching others is a great way of doing this.
In one of my previous blogs I wrote a couple of really good rhymes and songs for children which can help with developing language skills. The Rat a Tat Tat rhyme just wouldn’t be the same without my beautiful hand cat puppet (he has scratchy paws!). Children really identify with the cat and as I say my rhyme, in my voice and a cat’s voice, the children find it hilarious but I can also see them identifying with the emotions in the rhyme too.
I use my cat a lot – in fact I have two identical ones who help me with a whole host of rhymes. This one is particularly good for exploring different voices…
Leader: Can you use your speaking voice?
Children: Yes we can, yes we can
The idea is that the children answer back in which ever voice you have said e.g. speaking, high, low, loud, whisper and singing (this one I use last). You can also have a range of other voices that are silly robot, squeaky, alien etc. The main idea behind this though is that we are developing musical concepts – dynamics, pitch etc.
The use of puppets helps the children know when it is their turn to answer. The cats turn away when I am speaking and face the children when it is their turn. This is a great way to get children to focus.
Finger puppets are very useful; they are easy to use with small hands. In my cupboard I have sets of bees, butterflies, mice, cats, birds, flowers and then a selection of different ones.
I use them with many rhymes and songs: Bumble Bee; Flutter, Flutter, Hickory Dickory, Dock, Pussycat, Pussycat, Four little flowers and also for children to get creative with. In a previous post I mentioned about creating a new rhyme from Jelly on a plate http://www.cossinsmusicschool.co.uk/how-songs-can-encourage-creativity/
Finger puppets are really useful to help spark imagination. For instance I picked out Humpty Dumpty and created:
Humpty on a wall
Humpty on a wall
Don’t fall over, don’t fall over
Humpty on a wall
Buy a Humpty Dumpty puppet here
Puppets for showing conversation
Hand puppets or finger puppets are great for showing conversation within songs. As I mentioned earlier about my cat in Rat a Tat Tat . One of my favourite conversational songs is Doggie, Doggie. It is actually a question and answer song which helps children understand that answers follow questions. I have also found this particularly useful in drama sessions with older students to demonstrate that answers do not come immediately after a question but that there is a slight pause – people have thinking time before answering. Singing question and answer songs, forces children to wait before singing the answer as a real conversation would happen.
There are so many ways to use puppets and these are just a few! You need not buy them either, making puppets can be fun and creative too. Here are a couple of templates for you to print out and colour in. Make sure you read my other posts for song ideas and how to use them!