In this post I’ll show you how to use puppets in the classroom using 11 genius and fun music activities for elementary students.
If you are an elementary music teacher seeking creative ways to incorporate engaging puppets activities into your lessons then, you’ve come to the right place! Because I have just the thing for you.
First thing first…
Let’s talk about the benefits of music activities for elementary students involving puppets.
Using puppets activities in the elementary music classroom comes with so many benefits. Not only does it create a positive and engaging classroom environment, but it also helps students develop important communication skills. Puppets encourage the use of imagination and creativity, as well as problem-solving abilities. Additionally, puppet activities promote the development of social skills and a growth mindset. Overall, incorporating puppets into the elementary music classroom is an amazing valuable tool for student learning and development.
After using puppets in my classroom for the past 6 years, I have found that puppets have a unique ability to make my students feel more relaxed and engaged. In fact, I found that my students pay more attention and are more responsive when interacting with puppets compared to just myself. It may sound silly, but it’s true that puppets can be highly effective in capturing and holding students’ attention.
Also, have you ever had a student that would not participate in singing, cooperative or movement activities? Well, the good news is that puppets can help you change that as well.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of Puppets, which you can use in your classroom:
Hand puppets are commonly made from fabric and often have movable mouths and limbs. This type of puppets can be used in almost any fun music activity and learning stations.
Marionettes are controlled by strings attached to a control bar.
Rod puppets are played by rods and sticks attached to their heads or hands.
These puppets create shadows on a screen or wall and are magical story tellers.
Finger puppets are tiny puppets that can be worn on a finger and are often simple crafts that students can make. You can find these enjoyable finger puppets for free in my store!
You can find them attached to popsicle sticks or wooden dowels, and their bodies are printed, drawn or hand made with diverse materials.
Paper Bag puppets
They are made out of paper lunch bags, and their faces are drawn or printed on regular or construction paper.
These puppets are basically flat and made out of paper or cardstock.
11 Genius music activities for elementary students: How to use puppets in the classroom.
1- Puppet introduction:
“Puppet introduction” is a fun and interactive activity where students can use puppets to introduce themselves to their classmates. This activity allows students to tap into their creativity and express their thoughts and emotions. It also helps to nourish a sense of community and connection within the classroom, which is especially important during the first days of school.
2- Puppet musical storytellers:
Have students act out a story from a book while adding their own musical background of sound effects. This allows them to use their creativity and imagination while also exploring different musical elements and instruments.
Some of the books I use in my lessons are:
1- “Good News, Bad News” by Jeff Mack
2- “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons” by James Dean
3- “Bear Snores On” by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
4- “Up, Down, and Around” by Katherine Ayres
5- “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
6- “Chicken Little” by Rebecca and Ed Emberley
7- “Farmyard Beat” by Lindsey Craig
8- “The Pout Pout Fish” by Deborah Diesen
3- Puppet sing along:
One fun music activity for elementary students is this puppet sing along. Select a few songs that the students are familiar with and assign a puppet to each song. The puppets can then lead the songs, and you can encourage the students to give their puppet a special singing voice or even add their own silly comments between verses. This activity not only engages the students in singing, but also allows for creativity and imagination as they interact with their puppets.
4- Puppet instrument master:
You guessed it! In this activity the puppet will be the teacher. Therefore, he will show how to play instruments. Following, you may want to add an element of surprise, like your puppet having a problem to solve. Surely, the problem will inspire your students to want to help the puppet by answering your questions.
Surprisingly, when you use a puppet as your helper almost instantly you can capture your students’ attention. But you have to put on a show! because the puppets don’t act themselves, friends! Therefore, you are the first line of defense to get your kids hooked on the activity.
5- Puppet composition:
This activity will support your students’ confidence while creating their own songs to perform for their peers.
6- Teach the four voices using puppets:
David Row from “Make Moments Matter” has great lessons about teaching with puppets. In his lesson “Puppet Pals: Learning the four voices” he explains how to utilize puppets when teaching this concept in a truly fun way.
7- Vocal exploration:
Try “vocal exploration”! This fun activity involves assigning a puppet to each student and providing them with visuals to encourage them to explore their voices. Not only will this activity be fun for your elementary students, but it will also help them improve their vocal range and develop their musical skills.
8- Echo singing:
“Echo singing” is a simple yet fun music activity for your elementary students. Instead of just repeating a song, have your puppet lead the way and have your students follow along. This interactive approach not only makes the learning process more fun, but it also captures your students’ attention quickly.
9- Pitch practice and expression:
In this music activity, elementary students will have to respond to phrases in the same way the puppet (teacher) speaks or sings them. This means matching the pitch, emotion, tone, and volume. Check out the following call and response ideas to grab your students’ attention and make practicing pitch and expression a blast!
1- Scooby dooby doo… Where are you?
2- Oh me… Oh my!
3- If you can’t make a mistake…You can’t make anything.
4- Hocus pocus…Everybody focus.
5- Holy moly… Guacamole.
6- Macaroni and cheese… Everybody freeze.
7- Crystal… Clear.
8- One, two, three, eyes on me… One, two, eyes on you.
9- Hakuna… Matata.
10- Can I get a…Whoop whoop!
11- Give me a rest… ssshhh
10- Puppets singing interviews:
In this music activity elementary students can create their own puppets and then use them to perform singing interviews in small groups. This activity not only allows students to be creative and use their imagination, but it also helps them develop their communication and teamwork skills. In addition, it can be a great way to kick off the school year and get students excited about music.
11- Create a shadow puppet show:
Engage your elementary students with this unique music activity by having them create a shadow puppet show. Then, guided by the music of “Aquarium” from “Carnival of The Animals”, students can match their shadow’s movements to the melodic direction of the music, creating a magical performance. This puppet activity not only inspires musical expression but also improves coordination and creativity in young students.
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