Using puppets in a world language class is a great way to create a fun space for children to explore a new language because they are engaged with the puppet rather than focused on the perfect use of the language. Younger children enjoy puppet shows that are run by the teacher. In older graders puppet shows can be used as a tool for students to own and use the language, a tool that gives space for creativity in the target language.
Here is a sample of a project I did with my third graders. They have Spanish twice a week for a 40-minute period each time. It’s almost the end of the school year and I wanted to assign them an activity in which they could use the language. This also can be used as an assessment tool or something to share with parents. We worked on the puppet together, and we used about 25 minutes in class to make them. Children colored the puppets, cut them out, and added the legs using string and clay for the feet to make them heavy. See the steps below:
The final result! A happy wiggly puppet!
Then came writing their own dialogue. This step was the most challenging for them. I asked them to work in pairs and create a brief script using some of the language we have done this year. The only directions I gave were 1) Make sure it includes a greeting, 2) Have fun creating the script, and 3) Include a farewell.
This was done by third graders. We focus a lot on the oral part at this level and writing is minimum. I anticipated that some of them were going to complain about not knowing how to spell the words. I let them know that it was perfectly fine to make mistakes. Here is a sample of one of the scripts – click on it to make bigger:
After working on the dialogue, they took time to practice with their pairs. Once they felt ready, I recorded their videos using a green screen as a background. I edited the video with an app called Green Screen by DoInk. The green background was replaced with a picture of a street in Cartagena, Colombia. Here is a short excerpt from the video:
¡Hola! I am Carolina, a Colombian elementary Spanish teacher based in Austin, Texas. Fun for Spanish Teachers is the result of my passion for teaching Spanish to children and my desire to inspire collaboration and creativity in a vibrant teaching and learning community. It’s the perfect stop if you are looking for songs, games, teaching tips, stories, and fun for your classes.