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Puppets for Progress

High school students can teach elementary students about sustainability and environmental issues with this community service puppet project. This would work well as a student council project or with an art or theater class, the ecology club, key club, or future teachers’ organization.

  • Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Student groups/clubs are great opportunities for youth to develop organizational leadership skills. With a group of students, discuss how informative and entertaining programs can inspire children to join a cause. Urge them to consider how planning an engaging program that they would present to young students could fit their group/club objectives. Introduce the idea of producing a puppet show to promote the school district’s participation in the Crayola ColorCycle program or to teach others the power of solar energy farms. In addition to developing the script and creating the puppets, the group would plan the performance and collection of used markers with a local elementary school.
    2. Urge students to brainstorm how an entertaining and informative script could help explain the “why to” care about the environment and “how to” participate in the ColorCycle program. What would motivate elementary age students to collect used markers and send those markers to the ColorCycle program? Help the high schoolers outline the organizational and logistics as well as creative development responsibilities. Help them identify who to contact at nearby elementary schools to arrange for a puppet show performance.
    3. As the script is being developed, help students determine what puppet characters would be featured in the performance. Help them design the puppet characters from recycled materials and Model Magic.
    4. Students can form their puppets around armatures, internal supports that become the foundation for the puppets. Armatures could be made by crumpling aluminum foil or using recycled materials such as plastic cups or bottles. Markers make good rolling pins for flattening pieces of Crayola Model Magic® to wrap around armatures. Model Magic that is fresh will stick to itself. Dried pieces can be glued together. Puppet decoration can be enhanced by adding texture with modeling tools. If the puppets are going to be marionettes, remind students to add holes for puppet strings before the Model Magic dries.
    5. Once puppets are complete, have students rehearse their programs. Consider simple stage sets such as a cloth backdrop or a painted tri-fold. Encourage students to interact with their audiences after the show allowing time for a question and answer period.
  • Standards

    LA: Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

    LA: Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating a command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

    SCI: Ask questions and collect information to quantify the scope and impacts of a major global problem on local communities and find evidence of possible causes by breaking the problem down into parts and investigating the mechanisms that may contribute to each part.

    SCI: Refine a solution by prioritizing criteria and taking into account the life cycle of a given product or technological system and factors such as safety, reliability, and aesthetics to achieve an optimal solution.

    SS: Examine the relationships and tensions between personal wants and needs and various global concerns, such as use of imported oil, land use, and environmental protection.

    SS: Examine the interaction of human beings and their physical environment, the use of land, building of cities, and ecosystem changes in selected locales and regions.

    SS: Apply knowledge of economic concepts in developing a response to a current local economic issue, such as how to reduce the flow of trash into a rapidly filling landfill.

    SS: Use knowledge of facts and concepts drawn from history, along with elements of historical inquiry, to inform decision-making about and action-taking on public issues.

    VA: Apply subjects, symbols, and ideas in artworks and use the skills gained to solve problems in daily life.

    VA: Synthesize the creative and analytical principles and techniques of the visual arts and selected other arts disciplines, the humanities, or the sciences.

  • Adaptations

    Arrange to visit a theater where professional puppet shows are performed. Ask if students can interview puppeteers or see how the puppets are made.

    Instead of the high school students preparing and presenting a puppet show for younger students, have them work with a class of elementary students, helping them make puppets of their own and develop a script that youngsters would present to others in their elementary school.


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