Students have been creating a number of home-made puppets at school, using paper, markers, Popsicle sticks and tape. They have been creating characters of favourite stories, comics and those of their own imagination.
Puppets are a wonderful way for students to explore role-play, much as they would in the other drama centres in the classroom. They also allow students to retell favourite stories, using story-book language (“Once upon a time… All of a sudden… “), sound effects and changing character voices.
All of these dramatic activities can lead to the strengthening of story element understanding, such as character, sequence of events, plot changes, problems, resolutions and settings. Students develop oral skills, which are a key component in the FDK language curriculum.
Some students also use some recycled materials to create their own class puppet theatre, working cooperatively to decorate it. Children can also develop social skills as they work with peers on story creation and story telling. Negotiating who will play which part, what they will say and how the story will develop takes a lot of discussion, compromise and sharing.
The ability of a child to tell and later develop their own stories is strengthened by hearing rich literature read to them and oral stories told aloud. Kindergarten offers opportunities to head stories every week and work on oral language development which will later lead to students writing good stories in later grades.
When looking for rich stories to share with your child, be sure to ask your public librarian in the children’s section of the Toronto Public Library. Classic fairy tales (Red Riding Hood, The Three Pigs, Henny Penny, The Little Red Hen), alternative versions of these stories (The Little Red Hen Makes Pizza, The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, The Girl in Red, Goldilocks and Just One Bear), folk tales and legends (Legend of the Chinese Dragon, The Tortoise and the Hare, The Lion and the Mouse), stories with favourite characters (Franklin, Curious George, Harry the Dirty Dog), stories from different cultures (The Crane Girl, Rama and the Demon King, Sho and the Demons of the Deep), and by favourite authors (Mo Willems, Itah Sadu, Oliver Jeffers, Chris Haughton) who are always favourites in our classroom.
You can also hear a number of great stories read aloud on the computer through the library’s website on Tumble Books at the Toronto Public Library. With a library card number you can log on to hear these stories read aloud right at home.
An excellent resource for parents to consider, for themselves, which discusses the importance of reading to your children is, Reading Magic by Mem Fox. It is also available at the public library.