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!


  1. can you tell me which city are you in ? I am in Wuhan