Thursday, March 17, 2011


There’s something magical about puppets—they really seem to come to life like Pinocchio!

The best thing about puppets is using your imagination to create stories about them! You can make puppets from just about anything! Over the years, I’ve used puppets in my classroom, my clown act, and with my own children.

One time, I was visiting a nursing home as Peppermint Patti. After finishing my show, I visited the people who weren’t able to get out of bed. I brought my bunny puppet with me as an ice breaker. It is so realistic looking; people thought it was a real bunny. As they patted the bunny, they reminisced about the pets they once owned.

Jr. Mint is my faithful sidekick when I do my Peppermint Patti shows. She is a skunk puppet but she doesn’t know it. She thinks she’s a kitty cat. She likes to play tricks on me. She also loves it when I read to her. (That’s another way to get kids to read books—involve a puppet!)

When my children were little they loved watching a video by Sheri Lewis. What a talented performer! She inspired us to make our own puppets and put on puppet productions on many a rainy day.

Recently our fourth grades went on a field trip to the Lincoln Theater in Hartford, Connecticut. We watched a Jim West production of Aesop’s fables. The puppets were incredible! When they showed the audience how to make a newspaper tree, it brought me back to my childhood. My favorite books from the library were ‘make and do’ books. I’m hoping that the show inspired some of my students to try puppetry. Perhaps Jr. Mint will make a surprise visit to our classroom soon!

Has your family enjoyed a good puppet show lately? Leave me a comment—I’d love to hear about it!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Read Alouds

My favorite part of the school day is when I read aloud to my students. It’s so much fun to make a book come alive as I change my voice for the various characters. I love the looks on my students’ faces as they become lost in the telling of the tale. Even my reluctant readers become engrossed in the story.

I read three long novels per year. In addition, I read shorter books that correspond to the season or holiday (Friendship, women’s rights, Black History, etc.). The book we’re currently enjoying is Peter and the Starcatchers. It’s a contemporary book written as a prequel to Peter Pan.

Our read aloud time is about twenty-five minutes every day—just before recess. I try to time it so that I stop at a real exciting part. (The kids are onto me—they know I do it on purpose!) It’s great to leave them hanging until the next day.

Sometimes if they’ve been really good I’ll read to them for a few extra minutes at the end of the day. It’s great incentive for them to get ready to go home quickly and quietly. It’s also relaxing for all of us as we are transported to a place and time with pirates, crocodiles, and mermaids.

Do you read aloud to your child? Does your child’s teacher read aloud to his class? Leave me comment below.