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PUPPETS: talking science, engaging science, learning science. Stuart Naylor Nature and Learning Conference Vordingborg, May 2010. Getting the feel of your puppet. Eye contact is vital. Keep the puppet’s head down and point its nose at the person it is speaking to.

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PUPPETS: talking science, engaging science, learning science


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    1. PUPPETS: talking science, engaging science, learning science Stuart Naylor Nature and Learning Conference Vordingborg, May 2010

    2. Getting the feel of your puppet Eye contact is vital. Keep the puppet’s head down and point its nose at the person it is speaking to. You don’t need a different voice. Try it on your right and left hand.

    3. More puppet talk Puppets need to present children with problems to think and talk about. Usually there will be some kind of narrative to help set the scene for the problem. For example . . .

    4. More puppet talk Puppets need to present children with problems to think and talk about. Concept Cartoons can give us ideas for suitable problems. Your puppet is NOT an expert. It may not be correct. It can change its mind. It might have the most outrageous ideas. Use your puppet to build up a narrative and present a science-based problem . . .

    5. Things to be aware of • Older children seem to respond as positively as younger children. • Older children generally respond better to human puppets than animal puppets. • Some older boys respond better to male puppets. • You don’t need to use a puppet for a long time for it to have an impact. • One puppet can give more than one viewpoint. • Some children, usually boys, can get over-excited and may ‘fight’ with the puppets.

    6. What do the children think? - some quotes • The teacher already knows the answer anyway. So she’s really just testing you. The puppet doesn’t know the answer so we have to explain it in a way he will understand. • The puppets take time to make sure everyone understands. • Having the puppets is really great. • That was the best lesson I’ve ever had. • If he (the puppet) was alive in real life I would be his friend. • It’s not so serious with the puppets. • Puppets make the lesson more fun. • It makes the lesson brighter, makes it stand out. • If you have a puppet the group will work together as a team. • For revision we could get our toys and teddies and talk to them. I used to learn a lot when I talked to my teddy.

    7. Using puppets to show emotions Some suggestions: • Happy - animated head movement, ‘light voice’ • Sad - drooping head, quiet voice, slow movement • Embarrassed - slow glances to you and back again, covers face • Confused - pinched mouth, screwed up face, scratches head • Questioning - head side to side quite quickly to look at you or children • Angry - stiff head, staring, looking away

    8. Using puppets and stories in science Puppets are very effective at presenting problems when they tell stories. Some of the teachers in the research found it hard to create suitable stories, so we created special stories to link with the puppets.

    9. Using puppets and stories in science Discovery Dog stories, age range approx. 5-7, and Problem Pup for 3-5 year olds. Spellbound Science stories, age ranges approx. 7-12. Each has a storybook and animated CD. Each story presents a problem related to the big ideas in science, and supports children’s talk and planning for science.

    10. Using puppets in school • Start with something small and simple. • Don’t use your puppet for the whole lesson. • Get your puppet to ask questions and have a conversation with the children. • Make space for children to talk to each other about the puppet’s problem. • Think about what ideas you want to explore, but don’t have a script. • Invent a life outside school for your puppet • Practice at home!