Using puppetry in your  classroom. Part 1: Introduction to classroom puppetry

Using puppetry in your classroom. Part 1: Introduction to classroom puppetry

Hello! My name is James and I’m the owner and founder of Pubbets. I’ve been teaching part time since the early 90s when I taught music (keyboard) and later became a full time ESL teacher from 2007 through till 2021 when I starting running Pubbets as my main focus.

I’ve loved puppetry since I was old enough to watch Sesame Street back in the early 70s. Puppetry feels like bringing an animated character to life, and there’s definitely a little magic involved. People, especially children, eagerly suspend their disbelief when talking to a puppet, and this is why I’ve designed this series - Using puppetry in your classroom.

I’m excited to share all of the experience I’ve had using puppetry in a teaching role, and hope to connect with other puppeteer teachers around the world. 

Puppets are a fantastic co-teacher!

You can scrunch them up and shove them into a bag between classes. They’re always ready to start work, and puppets can help to turn the WORST class from epic fail to epic fun

But more importantly, you can use a puppet to introduce a second native English speaker or role model to your lessons.  You can pull out a puppet and use it to model new language or phrases that are part of the lesson plan. 

Kids learn very quickly from listening to and modelling language that they hear spontaneously, so use this to your advantage!

Imagine teaching a lesson on greetings and you have a boring set of slides that have the usual ‘Good morning, how are you?’ ‘Fine thank you and you?’ 

The students are losing interest fast and you can see the boredom creep over their faces.

But now imagine this scenario.. After a minute or so of teaching the lesson content, you have a puppet rush into the lesson and interrupt you.

Boom! Now you have every student watching with interest.Then you have a natural conversation with the puppet in everyday English and watch as the students eagerly listen to every word!

Before you know it, the students have just heard two native English speakers greet each other and go through a series of small talk questions and answers, or any content that you like.

Then the puppet can turn to the students and go through the same conversation again, with you guiding the student to answer correctly. For more advanced students you can ‘flip’ the dynamic and have one of them operate a puppet and do the conversation.

I’ve lost count how many times that simple yet fun activity has saved my class from disaster!

You can do this really naturally and randomly during your class. I like to call this 'stealth teaching' and I’ll share tactics and complete routines with you later in this course.

The older students can sometimes do the 'too cool for school' routine, but I can still usually manage to make them crack a smile (usually when the puppet insults me or makes a joke!)

Heres a great example from one of my online students, Patrick. His reaction still makes me smile years later!

Are you looking for a great puppet to use in your online classes? Why not check out my Pubbets at www.Pubbets.net They’re professional style, built to be classroom proof and very affordable. Plus 10% of all profit goes to disadvantaged kids charities, so you’ll buy a puppet and change a life at the same time.

Coming up next: Choosing the right puppet for your classroom.

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