Welcome to our Puppet Workshop Forum where you'll find lesson techniques, puppet and stage set up suggestions, resources, a puppet manual, and more. Specific Bible story-related lessons using puppet are found by Bible story in the Lesson Forums.  Be sure to check the Lego & Storytable workshop and Drama workshop forums for other storytelling ideas.

PUPPET METHODS or "how to use puppets in rotation"

Puppetry is the art of bringing an inanimate object to "life" and communicating a message with it.

This ancient medium has been used around the world to educate, to enlighten, and to entertain. In Southeast Asia, shadow puppets are tools that dramatize religious epics. In Europe, priests introduced the marionette -- little Mary -- to help people visualize Bible stories. In Africa, carved figures are devices that help to transmit oral history.

Puppets are used in congregations in worship, education, outreach and nurture ministries. They make announcements, play roles during children's sermons, illustrate songs, teach Sunday School lessons, highlight seasonal programs, visit nursing homes, and much more.

When I think of puppets, I consider six basic puppet styles:

body
finger
hand
marionette
rod
shadow

All types can be quickly and easily constructed from low cost or no cost readily available items.

Please share examples of ways that you have used body, finger, hand, marionette, rod, and shadow puppets in workshop rotation model programs.
Original Post

Our puppet group and church volunteers have made the usual type of puppets, people from felt (you oughta see the grandparents our sewing volunteer made, the wrinkles and extra weight are FABulous!) and fuzzy "anything puppets" in a rainbow of colors.

For ultimate flexibility when you have a large cast of characters, rod puppets are terrific. We have about 20 with different yarn hair-styles, beards, skin tones, etc. and change up the characters with different head-wear and dresses (they're simple "pillowcase" style with a neck-hole to put the rod through).

When we have to illustrate conceptual stuff, like David's dream interpretation or Paul's conversion, we use shadow puppets. We have a curtain that is black on the bottom and white cotton on the top that we replace our usual solid front curtain with. The puppeteers can sit comfortably and manipulate shadow cutouts.

Peeper Puppets

Creative Ministry Solutions formerly called "One Way Street", and others, sell eyeballs that they call "Peeper Puppets" for $4 each (see: http://www.creativemin.com/pro.../986/puppet_director)

Peeper PuppetsPeeper Idea BookThey have a V shaped plastic piece that goes on your middle finger with the eyeballs sitting on top of the two points of the V -- your hand then makes the mouth.

They also carry a book called Peeper Puppet Idea Booklet by author and illustrator, Dick Gruber. This 15-page booklet has creative ideas and fun ways to use Peeper Puppets. Learn catchy phrases, funny puns, and some general rules of thumb. You'll find 20 character ideas, 25 Sunday school and classroom uses, many places to use your Peepers, a Scriptural basis for puppets.


Home Made Peeper Directions:

These would probably not last as long as the purchased ones, but I made a bunch of these using neon colored chenille stems (aka pipe cleaners) and 1" google craft eyes. Made a pair for each of the kids to use during our puppet rotation for Emmaus Walk ("their eyes were opened"!) They loved it and they were so inexpensive we had each of the kids take home their peepers to share the story at home.



Need an idea of a lesson that could use Puppet Peepers? How about this one for the Walk to Emmaus.

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Here's a list of puppetry techniques generated during my two workshops, "There are Methods to this Madness" at CMA in Chicago in March, 2003. I'm just copying them off of the newsprint sheets without editing them, so there might be some duplicates.

Empty bottle puppets
Stage
Stick puppets
Sock puppets
Brooms/mops
Objects
Shadow puppets
Felt hand puppets
Interview puppet
Make puppets
Write a play
Finger puppets
Giant puppets in worship service
Human marionettes
Christmas program with made marionettes
Kabouki puppets
Random objects
Shadow puppets
Teach with puppets
Here are the techniques generated at the "There are Methods to this Madness" workshop at the Detroit NET WoRM event in May.

Rod
Spoons
Finger
Hand-cloth
Paper bag
Gloves with different characters on each finger
Hand - face painted on your hand
Life size - body
Sock
Shadow puppets
Marionettes
Paper towel holders decorated with string hair

Search for resources on shadow puppetry here at this site.

Basically it just cutting a shape from black poster board. Other materials work as well. Attach a "stick" to one side of the puppet to use as a handle while pressing it up against the screen with the light shining from the back. Bendable straws work extremely well. Kids love to use a paper punch to make holes and designs in the puppet. These openings can then be backed with colored acetate or tissue paper and the color will show through.

Kurt Hunter gives WONDERFUL instructions in his book Puppets, Kids and Christian Education, ISBN-13: 978-0806664095, at the workshops that he and Kathy do!). I can't imagine trying to do puppetry without this book in hand. Good luck!

 Check out this post for more info on Kurt's book and his website.

Julie Grendahl
'Amazing WoRM'
posted January 16, 2001

FEET PUPPETS

I have used this idea several times, I believe it came from the "Connect" magazine. For Good Sam, we scripted mainly from the Bible passage. For Puppets students dressed up the bottoms of their feet using markers, cloth scraps & yarn. Some even made each toe a different person (a group of robbers)!

Jan FPC Napa - Posted March 17, 2005

How to Simplify Puppet Skits

If we want the adults to be the narrators and the kids follow along with the script and their puppets (rather than the kids reading a script), in advance we use a storybook Bible version and rewrite it, putting the name of the character first so kids can listen for their character and know who is about to speak or act, and we emphasize the action words. Such as ... (words in CAPS said with more emphasis)

JESUS TURNED to SIMON and asked, "Simon, do you love me?"

PETER SEEMED PUZZLED and answered, "Yes, Lord, you know I do!"

For the groups later in the rotation who will know the story better, we might leave the speaking parts for the kids to answer ...

JESUS TURNED to SIMON and asked .... (person with Jesus puppet says the line

Sponge Puppets

Here's a fun looking way for kids to make simple puppets to use for a skit - sponge puppets - which includes 2 holes to put their fingers through for arms!

http://www.mssscrafts.com/dram...sic/spongepuppet.htm

We used these for our puppet workshop for Ruth.

ALSO ... since our puppet stage is a bit "tall" for our preschoolers, we created flat scenery on newsprint (a road, field, houses, etc.) and taped it to a table for them to "walk" their puppets around. Fun!

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