Speech-Language … Puppetry? Yes, puppets provide an engaging way to teach students about the rules of conversation and grammar, aid articulation of sounds, and illustrate language concepts. Have You Tried This?
Free
Have You Tried This?  |   June 01, 2016
Speech-Language … Puppetry?
Author Notes
  • Linda Siciliano, MA, CCC-SLP, is the founder of Creative Speech Products, LLC, and has served children with special needs as an SLP, principal and teacher of children with hearing impairments. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 1, Language Learning and Education, and is a member of the Puppeteers of America. lgsiciliano@gmail.com
    Linda Siciliano, MA, CCC-SLP, is the founder of Creative Speech Products, LLC, and has served children with special needs as an SLP, principal and teacher of children with hearing impairments. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 1, Language Learning and Education, and is a member of the Puppeteers of America. lgsiciliano@gmail.com×
Article Information
Normal Language Processing / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Have You Tried This?
Have You Tried This?   |   June 01, 2016
Speech-Language … Puppetry?
The ASHA Leader, June 2016, Vol. 21, 42-43. doi:10.1044/leader.HYTT.21062016.42
The ASHA Leader, June 2016, Vol. 21, 42-43. doi:10.1044/leader.HYTT.21062016.42
You might have admired famous puppets like those on “Sesame Street” for their power to entertain, but have you ever thought about puppets as a treatment tool?
Picture this: Puppet Peggy Jean angrily enters the room, visibly upset with Puppet Bobby because she thinks he is ignoring her. Puppet Bobby hops into action with a quick, “Peggy Jean, use your words.” He picks up a paper speech bubble that says, “I’m mad because…”
And so our pragmatic language session begins.
You don’t have to be a master puppeteer to create articulatory and linguistic magic. Puppets can serve as the way to dramatize concepts, learn about the rules of conversation, support fluency, help with articulation of sounds and connect children to literacy. Most important, they can captivate your students and make learning fun.
Just a single puppet can open the world of possibilities for speech-language intervention. Consider these ways you can teach speech-language concepts via puppetry:
  • Work on spatial terms. Move puppets around the room.

  • Highlight temporal concepts. Teach puppets tricks or tasks or conduct scavenger hunts (such a curious puppet!).

  • Illustrate action vocabulary. Capture and describe puppet action through video.

  • Teach verb tense. Show the video later using tense markers.

  • Convey expanded syntactical construction. Have puppets perform actions with objects, at the command of students. (Puppets generally love to be fed and don’t eat much!)

Puppets need schooling
Pragmatically speaking, your puppet may have a lot to learn: If it “forgets” or interrupts, teach rules of conversation and body language. Too loud or noisy? Use social stories to teach your puppet expected behaviors.
Working on articulation, sound system disorders, fluency? No problem. The puppet’s repetition or questioning provides repeated, focused practice of the target sound/utterance and supports fluency. Move puppets to the rhythm of sounds, syllables, words, sentences and rhymes—and your students can move with them.
Teach your playful friend to stretch words, write interactively with you or jump from sound to sound. What good learners puppets are!

Pragmatically speaking, your puppet may have a lot to learn: If it “forgets” or interrupts, teach rules of conversation and body language. Too loud or noisy? Use social stories to teach your puppet expected behaviors.

Try this puppet lesson
You can also expand the world of narration and exposition with puppetry. Here’s one possible lesson sequence:
Start with feelings. Narrative typically involves a problem, so begin with feeling words and pictures—such as mad, sad and surprised—on index cards and have children help the puppet act out the feeling. Other students guess what the puppet is trying to show.
Show causal connections. After the feeling word is established, imagine why the puppet feels that way. I often use a speech bubble with the printed word “because” if this support is needed. This develops an initiating event.
Introduce question words like “who” and “where” on cards. Have children pull a question card to “interview” the puppet for more information. An echo mic works well here. Or you can organize the cards into a web format: Connect question cards by string—making a tangible “web”—and seat the puppet in the middle. Questions and answers support story grammar elements.
Connect the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of the main character, now that you’ve covered the initiating event and the puppet’s internal response to it. Together, develop the episode’s macrostructure (attempts, consequence, resolution and so forth).
Expand concepts. If the story embeds other characters and you don’t have the puppets, no worries. Children can draw or tell you how to draw characters to make stick puppets, requiring them to use temporal and sequential terms.
Tap multiple senses in a retelling. Reenact the story aloud along with story grammar icons/visuals. Guide children to physically move the puppet through the action during your retell, adding cognitive embodiment to the mix. Then, you may want students to quickly sketch the sequence to remember it.
Give students a turn. Reenact the story again, pausing to allow students to fill in words, dialogue and narration. Through puppetry, gradually release responsibility for the entire retell to the children.
Record and replay a video. Videotape the final “performance” (audience optional). Use the video again in future sessions to focus on targeted concepts. Freeze-frame the video at key teaching points, especially to develop microstructural elements, such as elaborated noun phrases, conjunctions, mental state and linguistic verbs.
Monitor progress. Use the same episode several times a year, comparing videos as artifacts for evidence of students’ narrative growth. Alternatively, quantify the amount of visual, auditory, tactile-kinesthetic support needed for the “multisensory retell” as a source of data.
In my experience, older children love teaching younger children with puppets. Dramatization with puppetry can offer a sense of leadership, competence and pride. It’s empowerment through puppetry.
Puppets can be engaging, effective tools to meet speech-language objectives. By organizing stories around emotions, I’ve found that students can generate scenarios that bring personal feelings to life and support problem-solving. Your puppet friend can create a safe place for children to share, and the personal interaction helps them find a voice for self-expression.
Consider “puppet power” to spotlight students’ talents and showcase learning. Give your children a hand!
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
June 2016
Volume 21, Issue 6