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Puppets are a fantastic tool for the elementary music classroom. They can be used to teach a variety of concepts, and kids love them. However, the large and fluffy puppets you find online can be expensive and difficult to store if you have limited space. Stick puppets are a cheap alternative that are easy to store and just as easy (and cheap) to replace if broken or damaged.

Today, I’ll be sharing how I made my own stick puppets, and how you can use them in your classroom to teach mood, pitch, inner hearing, and improvisation.

MOOD

Below is an idea for how to incorporate movement, mood, and art music into your elementary music lesson. In this example, the stick puppets are used as an assessment tool. Here are the steps:

  1. Choose several art music pieces that differ in mood (happy, gloomy, excited, etc.)
  2. Edit each piece to about a minute in length and create a playlist that includes all the shortened segments.
  3. Pass out the stick puppets, one for each student.
  4. Tell students to move to the music, just as they would in a game of freeze dance/music freeze.
  5. When each segment ends, students should stop and hold up the puppets that show the mood of the piece they heard.
  6. Continue until you’ve played through the entire playlist and each student has had a chance to hold up their puppet.

 

 

HIGH/LOW

 

  • Play high/low sounds for students, and have them hold up the puppet that corresponds to what they heard. This is a fun way to sneak in a quick “check for understanding”. It’s also helpful as a quick review if you’ve had an influx of transfer students.
  • Have them practice high/medium/low with a fun pair and share. Tell students to find someone who has the opposite of them (high/low). Then, tell them to imagine that they’re the stick puppet and to tell their partner about their day.

 

INNER HEARING

Inner hearing was a topic that always came up when I discussed Beethoven with my classes. They would ask how he composed music without being able to hear. So, I walked them through a simple exercise. I would ask them to sing a familiar song out loud, and then to sing it again, but in their minds only. I usually stopped them partway through, as very few students could hold their concentration that long. Regardless, I asked if they could hear the song in their head. They all nodded, and that was when I explained that Beethoven did the very same thing (on a much grander scale). They were always impressed with themselves for being able to do a little of what Beethoven did, and I loved that!

 

  • You can use these inner hearing stick puppets to prompt students into switching back and forth between singing and using their inner hearing. Try this out on their favorite well-known song.
  • You could also invite a student volunteer to lead the class in singing out loud versus singing in their “mind’s ear”.
  • Use the “sing” and “listen” puppets to help remind students when to listen and when to sing. You can also use them as a reminder for yourself to not get in the habit of singing with or for your students.

 

ARIOSO LAND

If you’re a Feierabend fan (like me), then you’re familiar with Arioso Land. This is an imaginary place where students go to create their own tunes. Lomax: the Hound of Music Curriculum (based on the writings of Feierabend) does a good job of explaining the sequence and purpose of Arioso:

“Arioso” is vocal exercise that has children spontaneously create tunes. Just as children develop a repertoire of words and are able to create sentences to express themselves based on those words, children should be encouraged to make up original tunes and songs. The more tunes and songs that they have learned and the more opportunities they have to make up tunes and songs, the better their “Arioso” attempts will become.

Early Arioso attempts may not sound much like tunes, but with experience these attempts will take on more song-like qualities.

 

To read more about the fundamentals of Feierabend, you can read this excellent article by Dr. Missy Strong. You can also see an example of Arioso Land in the clip below, featuring Missy Strong’s students.

#kingdomofsing hashtag on Twitter

See Tweets about #kingdomofsing on Twitter. See what people are saying and join the conversation.

 

FREE STICK PUPPET TEMPLATES

Click HERE to download my stick puppet templates for free. I’ve also included an editable template (featured below). To edit in PowerPoint, you simply insert your own text, then drag and drop the images you want into each box. To flip each image upside down in the top row, click Arrange > Rotate or Flip > Flip Vertical.
Click here to download
The image below shows you the steps I took to create each stick puppet. I used cardstock, and of course you could laminate for added durability. However, if you do laminate, you’ll need to use clear tape instead of glue.
If you decide to try these stick puppets for yourself, I’d love to hear about it! Please share your experiences in the comments section below.