I love puppets and started using them a lot when I worked doing 'baby drama' in England. Manipulation of puppets requires skill, practise, plenty of creativity, and offers an outlet for expression.
In my puppet workshops not only did the students get to create their sock puppets in their own unique ways, but they also gave them their own personalities, voices and ways of moving.
The first lesson was the creation of the sock puppet! A beautiful artistic mess!
Now, normally I would emphasise the techniques involved with manipulating the puppet as a second class, and then creating shows would be the third class. However, due to language barriers I felt it was difficult to
get them to understand certain concepts, so I combined my lessons two and three into one, and with these students I emphasised 'playing' and creative expression.
Puppet tag - We started by playing 'tag' but it was the puppets who had to tag another puppet!
Techniques - I showed the students three important tips - 1) Only move the thumb when puppet is talking. 2) Always focus on the puppet. 3) The puppets mouth does not close completely when it is talking.
Head dance - standing in a circle we take it in turns dancing with our puppets heads only (and our own head of course). So simple dance movements involving looking at the puppet, looking away, both ourselves and the puppet looking in a certain direction, etc.
General puppet dance - taking it in turns, and with silly music, we would get our puppets to dance and the rest of the circle would copy the movements. This is a good exercise in exploring what our puppets are capable of doing.
Alphabet - we all said the alphabet together a couple of times with our puppets, ensuring the puppets' mouths opened for each syllable.
Thinking about character and voices - I wrote some words of personality traits on the board (in Hungarian) and got them to think about what their puppet is like, and then how does this affect their voice?
They thought about it a bit, messing around with friends, before we did 'introduction'.
Introduction - Walking around the room the puppets would say 'hello' to each other in their own voices, saying their names and maybe a bit about who they are.
Role play - In small groups the students would create a short play (1 minute) in which the puppets introduced themselves to each other.
Do they like each other? Are there some puppets who get on really well, or is there an obvious clash between some? What kind of stories naturally appear through the use of our puppets and their unique personalities?
After showing the other groups their role plays, we ended with a creative task of making either a music video or a television commercial.
All groups ended up doing a music video with their puppets and we made a make shift theatre using a couple of tables and the red curtains in the room we were using!
I think this was a good lesson for getting them to create. Unfortunately I could only show them the basic techniques involved in puppetry as I cannot explain concepts in the Hungarian language. However I think they really went to town with the creation part and if they particularly enjoyed it they have their sock puppets at home to play with. :)