This semester at university, I took my first Science class, which had a specific focus on teaching using toys. We had one workshop focused on the use of puppets and it is now something that I would really like to experiment with. I wasn’t totally convinced at the time that all students would be interested, but while on prac, my kindy class watched a puppet show at the local library and I could see how engrossed they were. I’ve been won over!
Using puppets to teach science can help to capture students’ interest, motivate them for learning, challenge their thinking and model conversations in a safe and fun environment. If students are using the puppets, it can help them to express their ideas without all eyes being glued on them, building their confidence. In this way, the use of puppets in science also has strong cross-curriculum links to English and drama, especially looking at speaking and expression.
In class, we talked about the way in which puppets can be used in a variety of ways. More generally (and especially in the lower years), the class could have a puppet that helps with classroom and behaviour management, and comes out at specific times, such as to help provide praise and encouragement or to decide classroom helpers. Alternately, puppets could be used in the following configurations:
- To do some teaching – the puppet can be an authority on the subject matter, providing new content and sharing information
- To introduce questioning routines – the puppet may be a novice and may ask the teacher and students questions or may pose problems
- For the students to use – students could report back on research, using the puppets to present. This could provide some evidence of learning as an assessment across both science and English.
Some concrete examples that we explored for using puppets to teach primary science were:
- Animal puppets for acting out and discussing habitats or lifecycles
- Finger puppets for discussing scientific concepts, such as electrical circuits, in a puppet show
- Shadow puppets to demonstrate living things such as plants growing or lifecycles
- Marionettes to explain science concepts.
Here is some puppet inspo from the WWW, all of which would be relatively easy to make in the classroom: