Friday, 22 June 2018

Making Shadow Puppets - Grade 8 Drama


Last lesson, we made rod puppets . For our last class, we reviewed what will be on the final exam and then we finished making shadow puppets. Before we made our puppets we discussed the different types of shadow puppets - Hand shadow vs Paper shadow puppets.

We did a picture dictation exercise where I said one sentence to the students and then they had to draw what they heard. It's a literacy exercise that you can read more about here. 
My picture dictation was a hit, and students were able to use their drawings after to try and remember the sentences I had said - in turn, they learnt key facts about shadow puppetry.
Below are some of the student's worksheets:





We also watched some videos of  hand and shadow puppetry in the lesson prior. If you have a projector you can project a white slide of a PPT and let students have a go making hand puppet shapes. Or, just grab a torch or the torch on your mobile phone.

Here's some of my recommended videos: 

I just showed a little bit of this video, so students could see what it looks like behind the sheet - and they got to see a shadow puppeteer at work: 


Hand shadow puppets - animal shapes video: 


For those of you with the time, I highly recommend extending a shadow puppet unit to a performance. We performed with rod puppets but didn't have time to do much but experiment with shadow puppets. There are lots of cool shadow puppet theatre links online with instructions on how to make the stage for a performance.

Anyway, back to making puppets:
I got my templates for free from Education Asian Art.org -the site is so helpful. They offer puppet templates as well as some lesson planning ideas and history of shadow puppetry. The templates from their site are Indian puppets.

After downloading and printing the templates in black and white, I got some split pins and chopsticks (you can use wooden dowels instead of chopsticks). You'll also need scissors, a hole-punch or two and glue. I didn't have any card to print on, so I got students to glue their shadow puppet templates to another piece of paper to thicken them like card. Printing straight on to card would save time.

After cutting the puppets out and their limbs, we hole-punched where the circles are drawn on the puppet's body and arm pieces. In these holes, secure the split pins so that the puppet limbs can move easily. Then, at the back of the puppet tape or hot glue gun the chopsticks/dowels. The chopsticks should be placed strategically for puppet movement. So one chop stick in the centre of the puppet's body or at it's head. The other, on the arm that moves.

Below you can see how the chopsticks are secured by using layers of tape. If you have a hot glue gun handy it will be a bit easier and faster - but the students got the hang of the tape method fairly quickly. My split pins were too long, so when you buy them try for a shorter length.



It's actually very easy once students have got the idea. Just like the rod puppets, you can practice some conversation using puppets. We had fun with them, it was our end of year class so we just had fun with it. Have a look at our puppets:




Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Grade 8 Puppet Unit - Mrs. Baia is in China!

Hi all,

It's been a loooong time since I posted and mostly because I am not teaching ESL anymore, I am currently teaching secondary English literature & drama at an international school in China. Thus, the workload has been heavier and a lot less time to blog.

However, I really wanted to share what I have been doing with my grade 8 drama class (the babies of the school). I only see them once a week as drama is an option for them, and they're just having a taste. Thus, for the end of the semester I wanted to do a creative crafty project as we have just finished reader's theatre and mime was before that. So, what better than puppets?

Our first lesson we went through the different types of puppets - as they had little knowledge of puppetry and didn't know much beyond TV shows and of course they knew shadow puppets as Chinese traditional puppet shows use shadow puppets. I made a quizlet set for the class in order to do a mix and match activity and quiz - you can check it out here. Quizlet is a godsend for making review quizzes by the way! Plus, lots of other ready made quizlet sets to use for your teaching or studying.


After that introduction, we made rod puppets. I got instructions from BBC Norfolk Kids as this was the easiest puppet I could think of making besides sock or finger puppets. Instead of 'cane sticks' I asked students to bring in 2 sets of chopsticks - these are so easy to find in China, and cheap or even free as they come with any take-out meal. We decided not to decorate to make a face - our puppets are faceless, creepy, yes, but it wasn't needed for the learning side of things.

Take a look at the photos to see what we made:







As you can see, the puppets have 2 arms and 1 body - made with the chopsticks. The instructions on the BBC site I linked here are very easy to follow. We did this step by step as a class and I made sure to demonstrate everything as we went along. 

Now, after finishing the making we are going to do our first puppetry workshop where students will work in pairs and act out short script pieces using their puppets. They will also receive a worksheet to write their own mini-scripts with their partners and then we will share with the class, pair by pair. 


Next week, we will tackle a class play. 

Disclaimer - we studied mime and body language in particular, at the beginning of the term. Thus, I am not going into puppetry body language so much because we will revisit what we learnt as mime artists. If you are doing this lesson for the first time, without a mime background, you may want to spend some lessons looking at gesture and body. 

How to make this an English lesson? Simply swap the scripts of my worksheet with the dialogue/phrases and vocab that you've been teaching. It's a cool way to spice up conversation time and you can add this to an English camp easily. 

Happy Teaching!