Puppet Tips from a Pro!

Puppet tips for teachers from a pro

Today I am super excited to introduce you to one of my most important sources of “puppet inspiration,” Becky Becker! Becky is a professional puppeteer who has been making puppets, supporting teachers, and filling children with WONDER for years!

She has some really great tips and tricks for making puppets and using them effectively.

Recently I boldly invited myself over to Becky’s house to interview her for this blog. It was the BEST TIME! She filled her living room with dozens of her wonderful, handmade puppets and we spent a good hour just visiting with them. Truly a magical experience!

One of the things I love most about Becky’s creative process is the way she takes a regular, everyday object (often something most of us would discard or ignore) and transforms it into a beautiful,  magical character! For example, in the photo above, she bought giant sized “Easter eggs” on the clearance rack and then added feather boas and big button eyes. To give them handles, she drilled a hole in the back of each egg and glued in a short wooden dowel. Aren’t they fantastic? I want one! Just wait until Easter is over- I’m finding a big, discounted egg!

Becky leads workshops especially designed for teachers, sharing strategies for making puppets and bringing them to life. I asked her to share a few of her ideas with us and she kindly obliged. (She even agreed to a video right there on the spot! What a sport!) You will love her ideas:


And she means what she said at the end of the video- she has hundreds of ideas and only had time to share a few!

To recap, here are a few of her suggestions:

1- Use large photographs or illustrations to build a puppet. Adhere them to a sturdy backing like cardboard, create a “handle” on the back, and then embellish with fabric, felt, ribbon, trim, etc. to add character. *A long piece of fabric makes a beautiful “body.”

2- Hunt in thrift stores and at garage sales for things that you can repurpose as puppets. Often items like holiday decor make a quick and easy puppet friend.

3- Socks are a fun and easy base for a puppet. Becky suggests using craft foam as a way to add features and details. Make sure to use hot glue for adhering foam to the sock, but craft glue works fine on the foam itself.

4- Look for ways to reuse everyday objects and turn them into puppets. My favorite example from the video is the Valentine’s Day chocolate box. Isn’t she lovely? I must have one of those too! She would be great for passing out kind messages that the children write to one another, or for “watching” the class to “catch someone doing good” and then reporting on Friday afternoon. So many fun ideas for her!

I have more advice from Becky coming in my next post. Hooray! And if you are interested in learning more about Becky, her puppet shows (absolutely enchanting!) or her workshops for teachers, visit beckysboxofpuppets.com

Other posts in this series:

Puppet tips for teachers

Your class needs a puppet mascot!

Tips for teaching with talking puppets

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Zero the Hero Came To School…

Zero the Hero costume via Wonder Teacher Every elementary school needs Zero the Hero. It’s a fun and creative way to teach children about the crucial role zero plays in our number system.

My friend, Carol Cook, (interviewed here as a “Featured Wonder Teacher“) is the resident Zero the Hero at her school. Each 10th day, she makes a special appearance on the morning news show and leads the kids in singing the “Zero the Hero” song.

Zero the Hero (tune: “Fishes in the Deep Blue Sea”)

Zero the Hero came to school.
Zero the Hero is so cool.
Zero the Hero saves the space – 
So all the other numbers can stay
In their place.
Bop, bop, didum, didum, wontum, chew! 
Bop, bop, didum, didum, wontum, chew!
Bop, bop, didum, didum, wontum, chew!

Zero the Hero is quite the celebrity and also makes special appearances at events such as the school carnival and PTA nights. Of course, Zero the Hero is also highly visible on the 100th Day of School.

If your school doesn’t have a Zero the Hero, it’s time to get one! Carol shared the steps for making her costume (below), so there really are no excuses. All you need is someone to don the mask and the costume. If you already have a cape you can use, just bling it out and add a zero and a mask. If not, you can make your own.

Here are the basic steps: [Read more…]

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