Classroom Exercise Distance Learning Teaching Drama

Warm-Up Game: Puppet Dance Party

Warm-up game: Puppet dance party
Written by Kerry Hishon

Here’s a warm-up game that is a lot of fun and gets students’ energy up. It’s a plus if you and your students are studying puppetry, but it’s not necessary to have done so. This is a great warm-up game to do in a virtual classroom because students can use the frames of their webcams as an additional tool to have fun with their puppets.

If you wish, you can talk with your students ahead of time about puppets and how they move. They might think that puppets have to be “real” puppets like marionettes or the fancy puppets from Avenue Q, The Muppets, or Sesame Street. But any object can be a puppet if you can pick it up and make it move somehow.

1. Select an up-tempo piece of music that you can dance to. Ask your students for song suggestions in advance so you can select some of their favourites.

2. Give students 10 seconds to find an object nearby. It can be anything that’s easy to manipulate – a pencil, a stuffed animal, a piece of clothing, a water bottle, a book. If you can pick it up and move it somehow, it can be a puppet. Even drawing a face on the pad of your finger counts as a puppet. However, it’s best for students not to select something that’s too heavy or potentially breakable.

3. Give students one minute to examine their puppet object and experiment with how they might animate it. Here are some things to think about:

    • How does the puppet “walk”? Does it float, jerk about, jump, shimmy, glide?
    • Is the puppet heavy or light? This doesn’t mean the object’s actual weight – the puppet can be a different weight.
    • How can the puppet be manipulated? Does the object open, slide, or have a function? What happens if you turn it upside down or sideways?
    • How can students move the puppet in and out of the frame of their webcam in an interesting way?
    • How can students interact with the puppet?
    • If the puppet had a name, what would it be? How does that affect how the puppet might move?

4. After the one-minute examination, turn on the music and let students make their puppets dance to the music. At first, students might just dance and wave the objects around, and that’s ok! Dancing and being silly in front of others isn’t the easiest thing – a lot of students are worried about looking cool in front of their peers. Getting students to move in any way is the first step towards letting loose.

5. Once students are more comfortable moving to the music, they can start to focus on manipulating the puppet and making it move and dance. Encourage them to dance “with” the puppet, and react to what they make the puppet do. Remind students not to focus on “doing it right” – it’s more important to let loose and have fun.

6. Before moving on to your lesson for the day, check in with students and ask them how they’re feeling after dancing it out with their puppets.

7. Have your students try this warm-up game every day for a week, choosing different music and a different object to animate each day. Then at the end of the week, have them complete and submit a reflection about their week of puppet dance party warm-ups.

Click here for a free end-of-the-week reflection for your students.

Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.

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About the author

Kerry Hishon

Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. View her blog at www.kerryhishon.com.