Benito Vacio

Puppet talk

I had a great idea to use puppets in the classroom

When a colleague of ours migrated to the US, she left her friend a number of hand sock puppets that were only kept in a closet. When I saw them, I right away thought of borrowing these treasures as samples for my English Club members to make and for me to use in my teaching.

Oh, I was very excited to use them in my English classes, so I didn't waste any minute that day. I rushed to the nearest mall to purchase colorful socks and eye buttons .At first, I didn't know how to make it such that I had to undo one puppet. Having gotten the knowhow, I was able to make 2 puppets and my 6 club members made one each.

When I had my vacation last summer, I was able to bring more than a hundred paper bags for my students. So, I had already taught my students how to make paper bag puppets before I saw those beautiful sock puppets. With the paper bags, my Kindergarten 2 to Grade 6 students enjoyed making the puppets using permanent markers, highlighter pens and luminous colored papers.

When students finished them, I hung the beautiful ones in our ceiling room as hanging mobiles. The others decorated our bare post in the middle of the room while the beautiful and unique ones were used by my students when doing role plays in class and flag ceremonies on the puppet stage I improvised out big boxes 1 meter high and 1 ¼ meters wide.

It was so amazing because when the puppets were done, the students used them eagerly and explored how to hold the puppets, how to make them talk, how to show them well, how to make the audience laugh, how to dance, how to walk, how to bow, etc.

It was incredible for the sock puppets gave my students excitement in giving information about themselves individually, by pairs , or by fours as they recited their name, grade, school, district, province, age, teacher, English teacher, address, country, nationality, and language.

In addition to this the Grade 3-6 could also introduce the name of their school, the number of Thai teachers, the number of foreign teachers, the size of the school, the rank in previous O-Net, their director, their assistant director, how good the students are, how good the teachers are, its rank in the search for the Best school in Thailand, who awarded the school, who study in their school, etc.

Whenever I reviewed my lessons, those who could answer my questions were rewarded to present a puppet show. For the not so good ones, they too had a chance but they had to present last. So, would you believe that my Grade 4-5 students could make a 20-line dialogue while the Grade 6 were able to make short stories with 20 sentences and dialogues presented them on our puppet stage?

Well, to add spice to the small group presentations of my students, I would make it a point that their puppets had to dance with the "Chicken Dance" song and for the finale, "The Goodbye Song."

Puppetry is lots of fun. It teaches students not only to be good puppeteers but also to be good audience too. It brings out their creativity and artistry in choosing colors, design, and what materials to use. Oh, with puppets, shy students can present without inhibitions for they are not seen.

Moreover, students can practice their English especially personal information and greetings. Students could overcome their shyness and fear to speak English. Of course, very good students became more confident and more spontaneous too.

Having at least 4 - 5 good students in a class, I never ran out of performers for our flag ceremony. Often, the assigned students would look forward to perform with a microphone, as the rest of the students in school awaited eagerly to watch with delight every puppet show. More so, many kids were gregarious to help carry the puppet stage, and the puppets used back to my room.

Whenever I saw students giggling because of the puppets I, too, was delighted. You see, even the not so good or "sanook" students did well too as puppeteers. My most fulfilling days were when I saw my students held puppets, and exchanged greetings with one another in English.

At present my English Club members are working on a show that would last for 15 minutes and hope to present this on Christmas or Children‘s Day. Try puppets in your own classes. It will make your teaching very enriching, so interesting, and really entertaining.



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