Puppets and Props for Motivation in MFL L. Coombes 23 . 09. 09
If you aren't using puppets, props or ‘personae’ to teach yet, you don't know what you, or your children, are missing out on ! They can make a dull lesson exciting, can turn a fuggy afternoon with children semi- dozing, into a class full of riveted kids. They may hold the attention of children who you are sometimes not able to. Try using puppets, masks, props etc. you won't be disappointed, and the children will LOVE it! welovelanguages.co.uk
Props • Any prop, such as a puppet or mask, provides something for pupils ‘to hide behind’. • It is the character who ‘ makes the mistakes’ / is ‘stupid’ - NOT the child. • They can bring a shy child out of his/her shell. • They also provide children (especially an autistic child) with a ‘real’ reason to communicate . (How I got back into puppets-when a child could not understand why he had to speak the FL when it was obvious teacher could understand English -it worked!)
So Why Puppets ? ? * Teaching has much in common with ‘Drama and Theatre’ * MFL is often ‘presentation’ , ‘demonstration’, ‘modelling’ - so why not use puppets/ characters? Quote from CILT : ” Puppets are a valuable part of the primary school teacher’s toolbox. They can be used with any age child and at any level. They: • increase children’s concentration and imagination, • bring other native speakers into the room, • add drama and enjoyment, • encourage more spontaneous use of language, • offer opportunities for creative pair / group work and • give children something concrete to handle.” ( Piaget’s ‘concrete operations’.) Early Start says “ Children like activities where they speak through puppets, a device which helps them lose any shyness and self-awareness about pronouncing foreign words ”. (N.B. Secondary pupils (particularly the less able) are not averse to the use of puppets either, just use judiciously.)
Some reasons I came up with include: • Provide a ‘real reason’ for use of the FL. • Constant characters provide continuity in the lessons– helps pupils ‘tune in’ to the different language. • Provide many opportunities for repetition without becoming ‘boring’. • To an old man, sleepy dog/cat the child must speak very clearly (and slowly), a snail/clam/ turtle may go into it’s shell if ‘too noisy’. • Pupils’ attention is fixed on the puppet. So they can be a help to the ‘non-specialist teacher’ as they provide an alternative focus diverting the attention away from the teacher, as well as the under-confident, shy pupils. • The puppet (unlike the teacher) doesn’t ‘correct’ the child’s attempts and is less threatening. Sometimes the puppet is ‘stupid’ (could be a young child puppet or old forgetful animal) and makes ‘mistakes’ for the children to spot and ‘correct’. • Can aid in ‘class management’, the puppet may not come out at end of lesson if . . / may disappear if the class becomes too noisy/rowdy etc. • +( provided by Claire who attended my session) ‘a picture says a 1000 words’, so visuals are time-savers / memory-joggers / avoid the need to’ translate’.
Motivation Children (especially of Primary-age) love to play and pretend, taking on other ‘personae’. Over the years there have been many studies (too many to quote here) to show how closely children’s learning is tied to motivation . “ The best learning environment is one where the child is intrinsically motivated; ♦ they devote more time and effort learning, ♦ feel better about what they learn, ♦ and use it more in the future. (My comment: How important that one is for MFL!) Thus, environments that captivate and intrigue children are ideal.” It has been said ‘Children learn what they want to learn’, and have great difficulty learning material that does not interest them”, [ Children's Play with Improvisational Puppets Ruth Duran Huard and Barbara Hayes-Roth1 Stanford University November 1996] so learning ‘couched under the umbrella of fun’ lets children learn- without them realising they are doing so.
• Use of puppets has been trialled recently in another subject - Science, and proved very successful. One teacher’s comment: “ The children responded brilliantly. Thought they may be cynical, esp. Y5 boys, but they were especially motivated”. (Teacher C) Some comments by pupils: “ Lessons are more fun” ” I understand better with the puppets” ” It inspired my imagination” “ You want to answer questions more” Nuffield? project ‘Puppets Providing Engagement and Talk in Science’ 2003-2005 (Now Puppets, talking Science Engaging Science see results at puppetsproject.com )
Links to the KS2 Framework • Working with puppets/ masks/ props enables teachers to meet the learning objectives of the KS2 framework e.g. Y3 O 3.1 Listen and respond to simple rhymes, stories and songs Y4 O 4.2 Listen for specific words and phrases Y5 O 5.1 Prepare and practise a simple conversation, re-using familiar vocabulary and structures in new contexts Y6 O 6.2 Perform to an audience You’ll be fulfilling NC and QCA requirements.- Always useful ammunition for HODs, heads or Ofsted inspectors et al!
• If you use traditional puppets from the country’s culture such as Guignol/ Guinol, Kaspar, Pierrot, Scaramouche, Harlequin,Pulcinella Heinzelmännchen or characters from fairy stories etc. you will be teaching children about the culture of the country. So you can also meet IU objectives e.g . 3.3 Know some facts about cultural heritage. 4.3 Compare traditional stories. 5.3 Compare symbols, objects or products which represent their own culture with those of another country e.g Punch compared to Guignol/ Kaspar. 6.3 Present information about an aspect of culture. (Let the children do your research for you and then you’ll have facts for other classes useful websites etc.) Uwe Spillmann ‘ Kiepenkaspar’ Pierrot et Harlequin Guignol et Madelon
Using a puppet as the ‘foreigner ‘ within the classroom • Provides a ‘real reason’ for use of the FL. The puppet can only speak ‘ the foreign language’ , so it becomes ‘natural’ to speak using FL. (N.B. The puppet needs to have a suitable ‘foreign’ name, background and special place to ‘live’. Possibly a suitcase, which then doubles as your ready-made theatre (Thanks to Kiepenkaspar for that one !) • Can provide a role-model for pronunciation. • ‘ Foreigner’ can provide an insight into ‘cultural traditions’, asking and answering questions. Using the teacher as ‘translator’ – as Harry/ Matthew Corbett did with Sweep if you’re not so sure about your fluency. • Sometimes a class puppet can be the ‘stupid child’ making mistakes for the children to spot and can help under-confident children find solidarity with another who ‘doesn’t always get it right’ ! N.B. When choosing a class puppet, just choose your puppet(s) to suit YOUR PERSONALITY and you, and your children, will have great fun in your lessons!
Different types of puppets Puppets of all shapes and sizes can be used. They don’t have to be professional or expensive. Shop around charity shops, cheap shops, car boot sales, Christmas and summer fetes etc. Felt-tip drawing on finger. Katja Neubauer says her children are so excited when they are ‘allowed to draw on their fingers’! Paper plates or bags Br ötchentüten or baguette bags [use ‘doubled back’ for strength and to fit little hands] are ideal. Simplest of all
Different types of puppets Bravo! Bag Puppets from America Sock puppets Shadow puppets Spoon puppets Finger puppets Pop-up Paper plate puppets Tube even Wash mitts Jo Rhys-Jones suggestion- have to ‘earn’ each piece of decoration
Or if you have a budget you can buy them! www.cambridgeducationaltoys.com www.lajolieronde.co.uk do Minou et Trottine Also e.g do Snow White and the seven dwarfs, Moulin Roty La Grande Famille + lots more. Try ‘googling’- lots of other places too! E-bay is a great place to start looking. www.puppetsbypost.com Nursery Rhyme Finger Puppet Set by The Puppet Company but also available at amazon.co.uk Use masks as an alternative/ variation.
Summary: Examples of using puppets/props • Practising dialogues • Presenting ‘mini-playlets’ • Dramatising stories • Singing songs/rhymes (even better if these can be videoed for ‘showing’ and used for AFL!) • Assemblies, performances etc. • Teacher can bring out puppet / masks etc. so children can hide behind another personae, helping them overcome nervousness at speaking ’strange sounds’ , gain self-confidence when speaking in front of whole class. These you are already familiar with but in addition you can use them for ‘behavioural motivation’. • Child /ren’s use of puppet as a reward/ treat at end of a ‘successful’ lesson or • The ‘reward’ puppet e.g. star/ rooster etc. / crown etc. to say ‘well done’ - star pupil, best pupil who has made an effort. The possiblities are endless!
* Another great prop is a small lightweight ball. Great for quickfire responses! or you could use a small beanbag. (Mine is a ladybird ‘beanie’ bag) or one of these doughnut rings. (Anything not dangerous when thrown. <ul><li>Pass an object round (related to the current phoneme), whenever they hear the sound ; </li></ul><ul><li>bonbon for ‘on’ ( mine is a sponge wrapped in gift paper ) </li></ul><ul><li>singe for ‘in’ </li></ul><ul><li>juggling ball ‘j’ongleur , </li></ul><ul><li>oiseau for ‘oi’ </li></ul><ul><li>wheel for ‘r’ </li></ul><ul><li>etc. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
For me and fellow enthusiasts the most important fact about working with puppets, masks and props is They’re Fun ! L. Coombes 23 . 09. 09