1. Motivate students to read.

2. Show how fun reading can be.

3. Expose students to 4 world cultures: Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

4. Expose students to 4 puppet styles: hand, rod, shadow and toy theatre.


Plot Outline: Three 5th grade students join the school librarian for the 2nd grade story time. One 2nd grader, Rocky, says he doesn’t like books. The 5th graders proceed to show Rocky and his classmates how much fun reading can be by producing puppet shows from 4 world folktales books from the library.


SPECIAL NOTE: Due to staging design, the puppeteers set up on the floor in front of the stage. They will need a cleared area approximately 15 x 15 feet. Students may be seated either on the floor, in chairs, or at tables. Visibility is excellent for any form of seating.


Suggested Pre-Show Discussion Topics

1. Discuss the nature of puppets – What kinds have you seen? How is a puppet used?

2. Discuss the nature of a theatre production. How is a puppet play different from an actor-based

play? How is it the same?

3. Discuss the basic elements of a story.

4. Discuss and name countries and continents.


Pre-Show Activities

1. Read a play or short story, having students read each part aloud.

2. Read books about puppetry and puppet theatre.

3. Read other world folktale stories available in libraries and locate on a map where the stories came from.


Post-Show Discussion Questions:

1. What were the 4 stories and what styles of puppetry did they represent and what was their geographical origin?

"The Old Dog" – Hand puppets – Latin America

"The Wise Old Master" – Shadow puppets – Asia

"Anansi and the Cloud Spirit" – Toy theatre – Africa

"The Three Princes" – Rod puppets – Middle East

2. What was Rocky’s attitude towards reading? How and why did it change through the play?

3. Why did the pigs want a book on how to build an airplane?

4. "The Old Dog" from Latin America presented with hand puppets:

Why was the Old Dog cast off?

Why was Coyote trying to jump over the cactus? Why did Coyote help the Old Dog?

How did Coyote and Old Dog trick the farmer?

Why are the chickens safe at the end of the story?

What was the "moral" of the story?

5. "The Wise Master" from Asia presented with shadow puppets:

What was wrong with the temple and school?

What did the Master ask his students to do? What was his important instruction?

What did 2 of the students decide to do?

What made the last student say that the task was impossible?

What was the Master’s purpose in giving the task? What was the "moral" story?

Would you disobey someone of authority if you thought their instructions were wrong?

6. "Anansi and the Cloud Spirit" from Africa presented using the toy theatre:

Why did Anansi go to talk to the Cloud Spirit?

What did the Cloud Spirit say? What was his first test?

Why did the Cloud Spirit think that Anansi would fail?

How did Anansi capture the snake? How did he capture the forest fairy? How did he capture 47 stinging hornets?

How did the stories come from the Cloud Spirit?

What were his instructions to Anansi? (Treat them with respect and share them with children all over the world.)

7. "The Three Princes" from the Middle East presented with rod puppets:

In what way were the three 5th graders using rod puppets?

What were the three treasures that the princes brought back? (Crystal ball, flying carpet and magic orange.) How did the treasures help to save the princess?

How did Rocky help? How did Rocky change throughout the play?

What kind of books did Rocky end up liking? Why do you think that Rocky didn’t like books at the beginning? What happened to Rocky?


Post-Show Activities:

1. Find Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East on a map. List 5 countries in each area. Ask your students if any of them have traveled to any of these places?

2. Discuss world cultures. How many countries/continents are represented in your class?

3. Discuss what a folktale is. How is it different from other fiction and non-fiction?

4. Make simple hand, finger, or stick puppets. Develop puppet skits using your puppets.

5. Act out a scene from a book of your choosing.

6. Draw a picture or write a letter to the puppeteers telling them what you thought of the program.


Bibliography: (Excellent Resources: puppeteersofamerica.org and half.com)

A Show of Hands: Using Puppets with Young Children, Creapeau and Richards. Redleaf Press 10/03

Introduction to Puppet and Puppet Making, David Currell. Book Sales, 9/96

Worlds of Shadows: David and Donna Wisniewski. Teachers Ideas Press, 1997.

Puppet Mania: The World’s Most Incredible Puppet Making Ever, John E. Kennedy. North Light Books, 2/04

Model Theatre: Robert Poulter, Rideo Press, 1996. 101 Hand Puppets-A Beginner’s Guide to Puppeteering: Richard Cummings