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?