Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'm Looking for an Animal

Book:   No Book, Just kind of a song/chant
Puppets:  I used Rooster + 3, but any will do
Props:  Puppet Stage
Presenters:  1
Audience:   Toddler  (1s and 2s)

With kids below three, I usually use puppets without a stage and a curtain and all. Stage and curtain can be fun for that age, but also kind of confusing. When I do use one, as I did last week for an outreach visit, I look for the simplest stories that are straightforward and easy to follow, such as The Big Fat Worm. And sometimes I just make stuff up. The real appeal for ones and twos isn’t a story so much as it is just watching those animals move around and interact. A simple song, like Old MacDonald Had a Farm is a nice familiar framework to have animals appear, make a sound, and disappear again. Along those same lines, I do a little chant with my Rooster puppet that goes like this:

“I’m looking for an animal…I’m looking for an animal…I’m looking for an animal…with black and white stripes.” (The tune is the same as "Aiken Drum")  Rooster looks back and forth as he sings, and on the last line, Zebra pops up behind him, then disappears, without Rooster seeing. The kids see Zebra of course, which is why it’s fun. For the second verse, Rooster adds another descriptor: “I’m looking for an animal (3x)…who’s kind of like a horse.” And again Zebra pops up behind him. This can go on for quite a while, but with this age I just do the two verses, then Rooster spots Zebra, who finishes with his own verse to wrap it up: I am an animal…I have have black and white stripes…I am kind of like a horse…I am a Zebra.”

Then it’s goodbye to Zebra and Rooster does the same thing with another animal. I like to finish with a slight twist: “I’m looking for an animal 3x…who says cock-a-doodle-doo” And when Rooster looks around this time, no one appears. Same thing with the second verse and he finally realizes that it’s himself he’s singing about.

This is simple puppetry, with lots of room for playing around with the hiding and peeking. I also like the vocabulary elements, where the kids, along with Rooster, need to connect the words with the qualities of the animal. And, like so much of the best puppet stuff for the very young, it’s easy for a parent to do the same thing at home using puppets, stuffed animals, or anything.

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