Puppet Pals

Puppet Theater transforms traditional storytelling. During a puppet show students never let the characters out of their sight. Students hang on every move the characters make. Teachers and librarians have been using Puppet Theater for years to entertain students and teach them about story elements like theme and conflict. Now, teachers can give students reign of the stage with the iPad app, Puppet Pals. Puppet Pals has free and paid versions available in the App Store.

With this app, students create their own unique shows with animation and audio in real time. Students simply pick out their actors and backdrops, drag them on to the stage, and tap record. My elementary students used Puppet Pals to apply story elements they had been learning in reading class: characters, setting, problem, and solution.

To activate prior knowledge, I began my lesson with a read-aloud of Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld. Throughout the story students discussed how the characters (Stick and Stone) were feeling, how the settings impacted their moods, and how they overcame obstacles. After the story, I modeled for students how to access and use the Puppet Pals app. My sample skit included Squirrel who wished to be big and strong like the other creatures in the forest. Hearing his plea, a Fairy Godmother appeared. Next, a wicked witch tried to cunningly persuade Squirrel to follow her to a cave for she claimed to be the only one who could grant his wish. After seeing how easy it was to create an electronic puppet show, my students were eager to plan and produce their own stories.

The results of this activity were phenomenal. During creation of their skits, students used content vocabulary and engaged all group members in developing a sequence of events and recording the dialogue. At the conclusion of class, we shared each group’s puppet show by AirPlay Mirroring the iPad screens on our Apple T.V.

Please check out these student-created Puppet Pals stories.

Puppet Theater is an effective tool in helping students develop speaking and listening skills and learning the elements of fiction. I encourage you to integrate the Puppet Pals app in your library instruction. This program gives students the opportunity to engage in creative play while mastering important learning goals.
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