~~~This post contains affiliate links~~~
Towards the end of my second year teaching, I learned that using a teacher puppet relieves stress while presenting content effectively. This revelation came about thanks to one particularly rambunctious 4th grader. Let’s call him Big C.
Big C thought he was too cool for my music class and enjoyed talking back and questioning everything. He was the kind of kid who you had to force your heart to grow to love. As a relatively new teacher, he drove me crazy and kept my class off task.
One day when I was particularly stressed I happened to have my snail puppet out singing a song. Big C started making fun of him and me, as he frequently did. Without thinking I had the snail talk back to him. Surprisingly, Mr. Snail was able to put Big C in his place with a snide remark. It was something I never would have said as a teacher, but the whole class laughed and Big C smiled and sat down without further disruption. I continued teaching and the rest of the class went smoothly. I felt really bad initially about the rude way I had spoken through the puppet. But after seeing that the kids, including Big C, were happy and engaged I realized it was alright for a puppet to talk that way. In fact, it was even cool. Ever since that day Mr. Snail has been my go-to teacher puppet and an important part of my classroom. Mr. Snail now even has his own YouTube channel.
How to make a teacher puppet effective
To make a teacher puppet effective the first thing you need is a puppet. Choose one that makes sense with your content. I had a snail song and a snail puppet to start with, now I have a pretty large collection of puppets and songs that go with them.
Make your teacher puppet relate to the kids
Mr. Snail’s personality is that of the annoying kid in class who thinks he knows everything. He also says stuff a teacher would never say. This gets to be important as the kids get older as it keeps the magic of the puppet being his own person even though they know it is the teacher making him talk.
You may need more than one teacher puppet to reach your whole class
My second most popular puppet is Bonnie Blob. She has a very tragic backstory: Bonnie is the last of the Blobs after a very sad accident. You might think this is too heavy for a cute classroom puppet, but my refugee, orphan, and foster kids can relate to her story more directly than they do to Mr. Snail’s arbitrary contrariness. Also, she is quieter and more reserved than Mr. Snail, so she is good to bring out when the class energy is high and we need to tame it down.
You need to know your content really well.
When you are teaching with a puppet you need to be confident in both your lesson content and your character, otherwise the kids may not buy in.
Don’t be afraid to interact and have fun with the kids!
Let your puppet say things you would never say (but still keep it appropriate for school). Have your teacher puppet talk back to the kids or even you. If you are having fun, so will the kids.
Those are the things I keep in mind while teaching with my puppets. Check out Mr. Snail’s channel to see what I do.
Comment here introducing your puppet and telling us how you use/plan to use your teacher puppet to improve your teaching!
Become The Adventure
Subscribe to hear about our latest adventures!