Sunday, April 24, 2011

Walking Backwards, Upside Down

Book: Silly Sally by Audrey Wood
Puppets: Girl (full body, so you can hold her by the feet), Pig, Dog, Loon (any goofy bird), Sheep
Props: Flowery something (hat, necklace, etc.); Tickly something (feather, duster, etc.)
Presenters: 1 (or 2), plus 4 kids from the audience
Audience: Family Storytime (mostly ages 3-6)
Video:  How to Tell Silly Sally with Puppets

Until a few weeks ago I had never done anything with Audrey Woods' Silly Sally except read the book…which is fine, because it’s just about perfect: anticipatory rhymes, simple to learn by heart, excellent illustrations, several silly moments, and a big finish. But our large girl puppet turned out to be just the thing for large group presentation. The opening line makes a good introduction using the puppet: “Silly Sally went to town…” [hold the puppet the regular way]… “walking backwards…” [reverse her direction]… “upside down” [grab her by the feet and flip her]. So for the rest of the story you’re just holding Sally by the feet while she flops around upside down. I originally tried to somehow prop her mouth partially closed because it looks so goofy hanging open, but as Terri pointed out, goofier is better for this story, and she was right.

For the characters that Sally meets on her way to town, we used child volunteers from the audience, each with a puppet. They don’t have any lines, but they interact with Sally, and the teller can make that easy for them if the child isn’t quite getting it. “Along the way she met a dog. A silly dog. They played leapfrog.” Ideally, you make Sally jump the dog a few times and the child will jump the dog around too, but even if she doesn’t move the dog much, the audience still gets the visual picture. The other meetings work just as neatly. “…she met a pig. They danced a jig” is simple. For “Loon / Sang a tune” I sang a goofy song (“Twinkle twinkle little Loon, can you fly up to the moon? If you make it there by noon, Please don’t pop a red balloon”…or something like that).

At “Sheep...Fell asleep” you have all the kids pretend their puppets are sleeping, then you throw something flowery on, grab a feather duster or a big feather, and play the role of Neddy Buttercup, who tickles everyone and wakes them up. We did the story with two people (one as Sally, one as Narrator/Neddy) during Family Storytime, but I also did it solo the following day and that worked fine to play Sally, narrate, and switch briefly to Neddy. For a story that requires puppets, props, volunteers, and memorizing the words, it’s easy, smooth, and just right for a preschool age audience.

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