Putting on a Puppet Show for your kids is the greatest thing you can do for them.
First, “pretend play” is crucial for children not only because it encourages creativity and imagination but because it helps them with their developmental skills.
Second, your children will light up when you pull out the puppets and they will love you for it.
Now, you may be wondering…
Where do I even begin?
In this blog, I’m going to share with you the 5 steps to putting on the best puppet show for your kids.
Step #1: Create a Puppet Show Script
The first thing you want to do before you begin writing away is to define who your audience will be and make sure that your content is age appropriate. Your job is to make sure that the script you create and the story line you tell serves some kind of value to your audience. Typically when you are writing a script for children you would want to define a conflict or problem and provide a resolution. This way your story actually teaches children a thing or two. Your script should contain all of the elements of a story including setting, characters, setting, problem/conflict, plot, and theme. I’m not going to go into detail on each of those here.
Characters: You will want to make sure that your characters all have unique voices. When writing your script use parenthesis to clearly differentiate between characters so you know when to change voices or change your emotions. For example
Cookie Monster (angrily): “Where are my cookies?!”
Setting: The setting of your puppet play can be established using a backdrop along with your stage. You can also use props to enhance the performance and create a better setting.
Problem/Conflict: The problem/conflict you decide to write about is totally up to you and should be aligned to the theme you are trying to portray, whether it is teaching children to share, not bully others, or how to follow rules.
Plot: The plot is used to describe the events that make up your puppet show. They will need to be defined in an order that makes sense. The plot you come up with will act as the foundation for your puppet show. Your plot should contain an introduction (where you introduce the characters and your settings are established), a rising action (events that happen that build up to your conflict), the actual conflict (identify the problem), a climax (this is also known as the turning point of the story), a falling action (when the conflict begins to resolve and main character(s) portray those actions, and finally, the conclusion (I’d recommend your show end with a happy ending but you may choose to end with a tragic ending as well).
Theme: This is probably the most crucial part of any puppet play. You want to make sure that whatever script you decide to go with that it teaches a valuable and clear lesson to your audience.
Not everyone is going to be an expert at script writing. If you’re not much of a writer, I would advise you to look into purchasing some puppet show scripts or retelling a story you already know like the Little Red Riding Hood or This Little Piggy.
Step #2: Create or Buy Puppets For Your Puppet Show
Once you’ve finalized your puppet show script you can begin creating your puppets. You will need to decide between using hand puppets, finger puppets, or string puppets and you’ll need at least one protagonist (good guy/girl) and one antagonist (bad guy/girl) character.
If you are an avid DIYer then there are multiple household items you can use to create a puppet such as socks, paper bags, paper plates, cardboard boxes, or stuffed animals. This can also turn into a great project to do with your target audience (your kids!).
Here’s a great video by a fellow YouTube puppeteer named AlyIsWriting on how to make a puppet.
Think about what puppet you will most likely use in your puppet show before you spend a lot of time on creating the script. The reason I say this is because you wouldn’t want to create a script where your main character is an alligator then realize it’s not so easy to create an alligator puppet. Also, make sure you’re able to produce a believable voice for your character.
Step #3: Build a Puppet Stage or Purchase One If You’re Not Crafty
This step can seem challenging to many but it really just takes some creativity and maybe a bit of krazy glue.
If you’re up for the challenge, this is a great tutorial on how to build a wooden puppet theater.
For a more simple DIY puppet stage you can purchase a project board display (like this) and cut out a rectangular hole in the center portion. Color and design one side of the board (the side facing the audience) and walah! You have yourself a DIY puppet stage.
Again, if you’re not the DIY type and woodworking, nails, and glue aren’t your “thing” then I would highly suggest purchasing the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Puppet Theater. If that doesn’t suit your flavor, we also have a vast array of other puppet stages and puppet theaters in our collection.
Step #4: Find a Few Household Props and Throw in Some Background Music
You can get really creative with props and background music. They are a great way to tap into additional senses children love.
The type of props and background music you will need depends on your script and the plot.
Check out Pinterest for great ideas. There are a lot of great images where you can get some really cool ideas from. Just search “puppetry” or “puppets”.
Pre-record various sounds on your phone based on your plot and have them queued up and ready to go. Practicing your timing before hand is going to be critical as discussed in my last step.
Step #5: Rehearse Your Puppet Show Before Your First Performance
Practice! Practice! Practice!
There’s nothing worse than an unrehearsed puppet show unless you’re just winging it in front of your kids. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the script and if you are going to be utilizing any pre-recorded sound bits, you’ll need to know when to play each one.
A well rehearsed puppet show will ensure that you can maintain the attention of your audience throughout the entire performance.
Do you have any other advice for putting on a great puppet show? Feel free to share with the rest of our readers!