Thursday, July 3, 2014

Puppets - a newfound love!

Over the past few years, I've heard teachers swear up and down that puppets are awesome. I discovered some in my music room my first year, but didn't really use them. I guess I just feel weird introducing a puppet to students. However, this year, I started using beat buddies. If you're not sure what beat buddies are, they can be any little stuffed animal that students can pat on their lap, arm, etc. to keep the beat. I was blessed when my mom found about 40 of them at a local consignment shop. The kids LOVE them! I couldn't believe it! They are also a good motivator for those younger students who have trouble with behavior. Here's a picture of what I tend to use...they are beanie babies from McDonalds, but anything smaller will work!







These beat buddies really pushed me to try out puppets. When I attended the Artie & Denise conference in June, Artie used so many puppets. It was great! She made literature connections, solo singing, and introductions to styles. I quickly started surfing the web for what I could use in my classroom. Oriental Trading is only an hour away from us, so this company gets products to you FAST. Also, they have such variety! Here are some things I picked up from OTC:

Horse finger puppets! These are great for students to identify and practice form for "The Wild Horseman." After using their puppets, the students can move on to using noodle ponies or candy cane horses in groups to show the form. So fun - check it out here!
Parachutes and Ribbons and Scarves, Oh My!





Large jungle animal puppets are great for teachers to use AND the students! I'm excited for all of the solo singing opportunities these will provide. Also, any puppets can be left at centers for students to do vocal explorations or sing songs with their puppets. 






Cat and dog finger puppets - so many possibilities! I can see the puppies being used for Doggie, Doggie and kitties for Naughty Kitty Cat. The main reason I chose these is for Rossini's "Cat Duet." Artie had one kitty for one hand and another for her other hand. These moved up and down with the melody when it was that kitty's turn during the duet. It's so funny! Plus, it is a great way to introduce opera to kids and show melodic differences. Let me know if you'd like to see the video from the workshop - it is one of my favorite lessons!




I also purchased some puppets at the end of the school year. I originally saw these on Music a la Abbott's blog post about puppets. I instantly fell in love - they are so quirky! Plus, they are on a stick which makes them a little easier to handle. The kids thought they were funny and loved naming them. Educational Insights now has fish and dinosaur puppets on a stick. Can't wait to add those to my collection as well.







My last puppet isn't really a puppet. I was at Half Price Books the other day (I am a HPB junkie!) and stumbled upon some interesting stuffed characters. There were finger puppets and stuffed animals from The Unemployed Philosophers Guild. My husband (when he was a teacher) had little finger puppets for famous composers and graciously passed them on to me. I didn't realize that they made larger stuffed animal models, too! The company has several new finger puppets (Elvis, Louis Armstrong) and composer favorites in both puppet and character size. I ended up purchasing the Mozart and Beethoven stuffed animals on eBay for the price of one from the website. Mine are still brand new, just cheaper. They have a smaller information card and play one of the composer's famous pieces. Here they are - ready to go to school. 

I know my primary students will love to check these out when we learn about composers. I plan on bringing them out when we read stories, color composer bios, listen, do movement, etc. I'm really excited to use Mr. Beethoven first with this awesome bundle from The Yellow Brick Road:





Do you use puppets or stuffed animals in your room? Are they something only your primary students enjoy or do the older kids still ask for them?

9 comments:

  1. I was reading through your blog post and was surprised to see one of my files at the end.I'd love to hear how it goes with your students next year :) Also, I love the concept of beat buddies. I often have students "conduct", which is when I have them follow the music with some form of pointer (sometimes even my own baton). I like the idea of having beat buddies available for the other students, rather than just asking them to use their hands. Hmm...now I'll have to be on the lookout for some!

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    1. I started using the steady beat one at the end of the year. I can't wait to tie it into a mini unit on Beethoven for my kinders. I started using them on a whim last year and love them. McDonalds is selling Beanie Boos in their Happy Meals right now. It's an easy way to start building your collection if you have children in your family.

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  2. I like these ideas. Earlier in the last school year I introduced Freddie the Frog but did not use him again. The younger students wanted to know when they would see him again. I don't have any experience using puppets? I guess I better start practicing!

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    1. Thanks! I have Freddie, too. I'm still a little weary of using a puppet on my own with the students, but from what I've heard, it works with the kids. I think I'm going to start out with everyone using puppets and work my way into using it as a leader. Best of luck - thanks for reading!

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  3. I love puppets and stuffed animals! :-) Thanks for suggesting oriental trading - I didn't know they had puppets! And I just spent almost an hour looking at puppets on ebay - what a great idea! I'll be trying out the beat buddies this year. I'm writing a post on make-believe in the Kinder music class - do you mind if I link back to this post?

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    1. I didn't realize they had puppets either! I can't wait to see what they roll out in the next few months for school, holidays, etc. I love when students come up and tell me they have their own beat buddies at home. Also, I love following your blog! Feel free to link back here at any time...can't wait to see your Kinder post :)

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  4. I love using puppets and stuffed animals in the classroom! Manatees are my favorite animal, so I have a bit of an ocean theme in my room with lots of stuffed ocean animals. They are all named after composers (Orff the Octopus, Debussy the Dolphin, etc) and the kids love singing with them. I don't use puppets as often as I (and the students) would like. I've noticed that students are much more willing to sing solos if they are making the puppet sing so it's a great way to coax even reluctant singers out of their shell a bit (especially when they are using Salieri the Snail). I mostly keep the puppets in the lower grades, but even the 5th-8th graders have enjoyed using them in class for puppet talent shows.

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    1. Those sound awesome! I never thought of naming them after composers. Where do you get your puppets? I hope to see more solo singing out of my students and utilize them in centers this year. Thank you for sharing your great idea and reading my blog!

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    2. Almost all of my animals and puppets came from garage sales. I also received a few as gifts from my family.

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