I love me some puppets. For whatever reason, they transfix the kids and I just love making them come to life. With the rowdy group of boys this year, puppets are helping tame the wild beasts during important listening times.
My first friend, Eddie the Eagle (yes, I named him) has a critical role. When we do our letter sound chanting each day (part of The Three Habits of Highly Successful Reading Teachers book), it is imperative that each sprout has their eyes glued to the pointer as we point to each letter. The routine only works if they are making eye contact during the chanting.
Well, one day last year, I came up with the metaphor of ‘keep your eyes glued to the pointer like an eagle looking for prey.’ I dug in my bucket of puppets, whipped out an eagle, and Eddie was born. Each day, I find one friend who really looks ready to focus. That student gets to (gasp!) hold Eddie while we do our chanting. Of course, they have to make him stare at the pointer since he’s an eagle. It works! Everyone wants to hold Eddie and this little carrot provides much needed motivation.
Never one to let a good trick go unrepeated, this year, after finding many of the boys unable to sit still for stories, I grabbed Chester the raccoon puppet (he has a little heart sticker on his paw from his mommy’s kiss).
“Remember how Chester was nervous about going to school?” I ad libbed.
“Well now that he’s comfortable in school, he wants to hear all the stories we read together. He needs a calm and quiet friend to hold him during each story,” I finished.
With those last few words, I watched each child snap to attention and calm their bodies.
As luck would have it, the day we introduced Eddie and Chester to the class was also the tenth day of school and Chippy came out for a visit. Three new puppets in a day and they are really doing their job. Could I live in a world without puppets? Absolutely, but I sure wouldn’t want to.