Talking heads

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By Jenni Tavener early years teacher and writer.

Bring the world of puppeteering to your setting with your very own puppet theatre and a range of home-made puppets

talking heads

Puppet theatre

To create a puppet theatre, cut two large rectangular openings in opposite sides of a strong, cardboard box, one to form the ‘backstage’ where the puppets can be held up to face the audience, and the other for the ‘front stage’ as viewed by the audience.

Invite the children to decorate the edges around the ‘front stage’ using colourful paints or sticky-paper shapes, and use strips of sticky-backed Velcro to hang a panel of fabric on either side of the opening to create theatre curtains. Tie the curtains back with thick wool. Stand the decorated theatre on a low-level table draped in a large sheet of fabric to hide the puppeteers as they crouch ‘backstage’ manoeuvring their puppets.

Place a row of chairs in front of the puppet theatre and a ‘ticket office’ nearby with a toy till, home-made theatre tickets and programmes, and real or pretend money. Help the children to make a selection of signs and posters to display around the theatre, such as ‘Daily puppet shows’, ‘Tickets for sale’, ‘Entrance’, ‘Exit’ and so on.

Use your puppet theatre to encourage imaginative play.

Suggested resources

Large, strong cardboard box; large scissors (adult use); colourful paints; sticky-paper shapes; strips of sticky-backed Velcro; nonfraying fabric such as felt, braid or thick wool; low-level table; large drapes or an old sheet; chairs; toy till; home-made theatre tickets and programmes; real or pretend money; strips of card; thick pens; selection of commercial and home-made puppets, tape recorder and tapes.

1 String puppet pets

Make simple string puppets to use in the puppet theatre

Knowledge and understanding of the world

Designing and Making

Development matters: construct with a purpose in mind, using a variety of resources (40-60+ months).

Early learning goal: select the tools and techniques they need to shape, assemble and join materials they are using.

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