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Puppet Theatre Lesson Plan

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

If your class is learning about drama, this lesson introduces students to puppet theater. Students will create a brochure about an aspect of puppetry, create their own puppet, and use puppets to act out a scene from a novel, story, or play.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify the genres of plays performed in puppet theater
  • Identify and describe the different types of puppets
  • Identify famous puppets, puppet shows, and puppeteers

Length

2+ hours (additional time for extension activity)

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.7

Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.9

Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

Vocabulary/Phrases

  • puppetry
  • Famous Puppets/Puppet Shows: Punch and Judy, Sesame Street, The Muppet Show
  • Famous Puppeteers: Thomas Holden, Uemura Bunrakuken, Count Franz Pocci, Jim Henson
  • Types of puppets: hand puppets, glove puppets, rod puppets, marionettes, shadow figures, bunraku, finger puppets

Materials

  • Pictures of puppets and puppet theaters
  • Pictures and/or video clips of types of plays/performances in the puppet theater
  • Physical examples and/or video clips and pictures of different puppet types
  • Video clips of famous puppet shows
  • Puppet-making materials (socks, buttons, dowel rods, construction paper, yarn, sewing tools, glue, fabric, clay, newspaper, modge podge, paint, popsicle sticks, etc.)
  • Tablecloth
  • Blank paper
  • Pencils
  • Colored pencils and/or markers

Instructions

Characteristics of Puppet Theater

  • Ask the students to discuss any puppet shows they have seen. Inform the students that they will be learning about puppet theater.
  • Define the word 'puppetry' and discuss the characteristics of puppets while showing the students different pictures of puppets and puppet theaters.
  • Show the students pictures or video clips of different types of plays and performances found in the puppet theater including:
    • Folk tales
    • Fairy tales
    • Comedies
    • Bible stories or other religious tales
    • Greek and Roman tragedies and heroic tales
    • Political/social satire
  • Discuss how puppet theater was initially a form of adult entertainment until the 20th century when it primarily became a form of childhood entertainment.
  • Discuss the following questions with the students:
    • Which type of play or performance would you most like to see in a puppet theater? Why?
    • What did all of these types of performances seem to have in common?
    • Why do you think puppet shows transitioned from being a form of adult entertainment to children's entertainment?

Types of Puppets

  • Show the students actual examples and/or video clips and pictures of the following types of puppets. Discuss the characteristics of each type of puppet:
    • Hand puppet
    • Glove puppet
    • Rod puppet
    • Marionette
    • Shadow figures
    • Bunraku
    • Finger puppets
  • Discuss the following questions with the students:
    • Have you seen any of these puppets perform? Which ones?
    • If you were a puppeteer, which one would you like to work with? Why?
    • What types of puppets would you use for the various genres of plays and performances we discussed at the beginning of the lesson?

Famous Puppets/Puppet Shows

  • Discuss the contributions of the following puppeteers to the world of puppetry:
    • Thomas Holden (marionettes)
    • Uemura Bunrakuken (bunraku)
    • Count Franz Pocci (first to use puppet theater for children)
    • Jim Henson (creator of popular televised puppet shows)
    • Show the students video clips of the following famous puppet shows. Discuss the characteristics of each and what made them popular:
    • Punch and Judy
    • Sesame Street
    • The Muppet Show
  • Discuss the following questions with the students:
    • Name a famous puppeteer. How did they contribute to the world of puppetry?
    • What other famous puppet shows can you think of?

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