This unit on Puppetry is designed for middle school and up, to introduce students to the material and get them comfortable with performing in a safe and low exposure environment.
This is a unit that builds to a culminating experience for your students. Each lesson is designed to explore techniques, provide opportunities for creative collaboration among your students, and give them opportunities to perform. Some of the lessons require materials to build or create puppets. Puppetry can be as easy as drawing a face on your finger for finger puppets, to actually purchasing your own finger puppets for students to use.
While the focus of this unit is puppetry, your students will explore other skills as well. There’s the obvious ones of creative thinking, teamwork, and problem solving. They are also going to explore storytelling, performing skills, and playwriting.
The overview lays out the objectives for the unit, as well as lists and describes the 9 lessons in the series.
Through a PuppetQuest, students will learn about the different types and origins of puppetry.
One of easiest and earliest forms of puppetry, students will learn to create shadow puppets using just their hands. After they have practiced their creations, they will create a group/partner scene using the shadow puppets.
Students learn how shapes create interesting dynamics in shadow puppets. Students will have a packet of shadow puppet cut-outs. These cut-outs include animals that can be attached to a popsicle stick. In groups/partners, students will use the cut-outs in the packet to create a scene. They will also create an original cut-out.
If you have the resources, purchase finger puppets for this lesson. It can also be easily done with drawn faces on index fingers, or faces on popsicle sticks. Using well known fairy tales like “Little Red Riding Hood” or “The Three Little Pigs,” students will retell these stories from a different perspective, using their finger puppet.
Students will bring in an object that they can turn into a puppet. Using the object puppet, students will create an original character and establish movement patterns and character voice. Character Worksheet and Practice Sheets are included, to perform their original puppet characters.
Students learn proper hand puppet technique and practice these techniques with a prewritten scene. Teachers can also choose to use traditional hand puppets, or students can make their own using socks/paper bags.
Students will write their own puppet play using the same format as the prewritten scene. In pairs, students will go over guidelines for creating a character and writing a scene.
Using the guidelines provided and their previous scene, students will create a Puppet Company complete with a logo, the name of their production, and a picture that gives clues about the production. Students will also learn about professional puppet companies.
This final lesson is a culminating performance. Students practice their scene using their hand puppets, then perform. Those watching will fill out a feedback sheet, which is discussed after the performance. A Unit Reflection and a Performance Reflection are included.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 - Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6 - Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.9-10.6 - Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.5 - Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
TH.912.C.1.2 - Create, refine, and sustain complex and believable characters for performance through the integration and application of artistic choices based on research, rehearsal, feedback, and refinement.
A.CU.1.2 - Exemplify a variety of theatrical forms, such as puppetry, musical theatre, and pantomime, from Non-Western cultures and a variety of historical periods through the creation of theatrical works.
Research, describe, interpret and evaluate how artists (dancers, actors, musicians, and visual artists) use processes, materials, movements, technologies, tools, techniques, and environments in the arts
C.3.2 - identify and apply the skills and attitudes needed to perform various tasks and responsibilities in producing drama works (e.g., use active listening and cooperative problem-solving skills; practise punctuality; use tact in suggesting changes and improvements; demonstrate willingness to accept criticism and build consensus)
C.3.3 - demonstrate an understanding of theatre and audience etiquette, in both classroom and formal performance contexts (e.g., as a performer: show willingness to take direction and behave appropriately towards other actors; as a viewer: demonstrate respect for performers and other audience members by paying attention, not interrupting or talking, and applauding when appropriate)
C.1.2 - demonstrate an understanding of and use correct terminology to refer to the forms, elements, conventions, and techniques of drama, with a focus on ensemble drama works (e.g., chorus, protagonist, ingénue, supporting role, act, scene, climax, resolution, improvisation, mask, freeze-frame image)
C.1.3 - demonstrate an understanding of production roles, practices, and terminology when planning and presenting drama works (e.g., set design, costume design, lighting plot, light cue sheet, sound cue sheet, prompt book, set sketch, set model)
B.3.1 - identify and describe skills, attitudes, and strategies they used in collaborative drama activities (e.g., brainstorming, active listening, and cooperative problem-solving skills; strategies for sharing responsibility through collaborative team roles)
B.1.1 - use the critical analysis process before and during drama projects to identify and assess individual and peer roles and responsibilities in producing drama works (e.g., identify and assess the contribution of leadership and supporting roles, group dynamics, and cooperative problem solving to their process of creating drama works)
A.3.1 - identify and use a variety of techniques to influence the audience in specific ways (e.g., have actors enter the performance space from the audience to increase audience connection to the drama; use blocking to focus audience attention on key characters or relationships between characters)
A.3.2 - use a variety of voice and movement techniques to support the creation of character or atmosphere during rehearsal (e.g., use voice and movement to suggest an airport, circus, or factory environment)