Using puppets in the music classroom can be a wonderful way to engage students and create a magical environment! Below are my favorite uses for puppets:
• Vocal exploration: Whether using a rooster to get students to “cock-a-doodle-doo” or an owl to get students to “whoooo” in their head voices, puppets can be a great way to foster vocal exploration and pitch-matching. Students can also follow the path of a finger puppet, such as a butterfly, flying through the air.
• Inner/Outer singing: Puppets that are able to pop in and out of something are wonderful for inner/outer singing! West Music now carries a raccoon that can pop in and out of the trash can: when he is out of the trash can, students can sing a known song normally, but when he is in the trash can, students have to sing inside their heads.
• Song prop: A colleague of mine just told me that when she plays “We are dancing,” she has the child who is the wolf hold a wolf puppet to say what he/she is doing at the end of the song: you can then use it for vocal exploration to have kids howl like awolf! I’ve also used a turkey puppet for “Shoo Turkey,” and then had students gobble like turkeys!
• Call/response songs: One of my favorite call/response songs is “Come back home my little chicks.” I teach the song using a rooster puppet and a chick puppet, so students can easily see who sings which part. Then, I have them only sing the chick part, or only sing the rooster part.
• To encourage solo singing: Singing alone can be a bit overwhelming to some students, but if they think they are singing to a puppet, their perspectives can change dramatically! One of my favorite puppets is “Penny the Peacock,” who only answers questions when students sing to her. It brightens up my day to hear a child singing a solo to Penny, asking questions such as “What’s your favorite color?” or “What’s your favorite food?”
I hope you and your students enjoy using puppets to sing, play games, and explore!
Shop for puppets!
– Aileen Miracle