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Pop-Up Puppets

Puppets pop up through the floor of this circus theater created from a recycled box. Act out Peter Spier's Circus! or any favorite book!

  • Grade 1
    Grade 2
    Grade 3
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Conduct a read aloud of Circus! by Peter Spier or another book that you and the students find appealing. What animals and people do you see in a circus? Clowns? Elephants? Jugglers? What does the tent or arena look like? Use Crayola® Dry-Erase Markers and a class white board to have students make a list of details such as the book's setting and circus performers.
    2. Organize students into small groups. Student groups will collaborate to make a puppet stage and puppets to retell the story. Beginning wiith Crayola Scissors, students cut off all flaps on a recycled box to make a puppet theater.
    3. Next, students cover their work area with recycled newspaper. Use Crayola Washable Tempera to paint the theater. Air dry.
    4. Use Crayola Washable Markers, Construction Paper Crayons, and Glitter Glue to decorate the box so that it looks like the setting of a circus. Students may want to use construction paper or decorative craft supplies, too. Air dry.
    5. On poster board, students draw and color the main characters and animals from the story. Cut out the puppets. Glue each one to the top of a craft stick with Crayola School Glue. Air dry flat.
    6. Students cut slits in the bottom of the theater so the characters can pop up through the floor. Insert the puppets as they appear. It's time for the show! Have adult assistance available for cutting, if needed.
    7. Ask each group of students to compose a short play for their characters. Provide time in the school day for groups to perform for classmates.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, in the grade level text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

    VA: Know the differences among visual characteristics and purposes of art in order to convey ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Circus by Lois Ehlert; Peter Spier's Circus (A Picture Yearling Book) by Peter Spier; If I Ran the Circus (Classic Seuss) by Dr. Seuss

    Ask students to investigate music to complement their scenes for the puppet shows. Have students comment on why they selected specific music.

    Encourage students to make costumes for performers in a circus. Recycled clothing and cardboard can be very helpful in making this type of costume. Organize students to perform circus acts in their costumes.

    Students groups write an original short story or play for the characters they have made into puppets. The groups should be prepared to present their original work to classmates.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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