"Sometimes as a head teacher you stumble across a project that is truly remarkable and that brings significant learning and value to the school’s community. I am pleased to say that the Young People’s Puppet Theatre (YPPT) is a wonderful example of such a project.
A year ago when we first spoke about the project I had no real idea what the project would entail, but I also thought it sounded like a good way to develop the collaboration and design and technology skills of our Year 6 pupils. The reality far exceeded my expectations.
So what have Year 6 accomplished?
It started with the puppets. Each and every child has created a character for the puppet show. They crafted their heads out of clay. They decorated them using paints and gave them hair. This was a really creative an exciting part of the process. The range of ideas and creative outcomes was phenomenal.
After the heads, the puppets needed to be assembled and clothes needed to be created. The pupils had to consider what their puppet would wear and how they could use a textile pattern to help them create clothing that would fit their puppet’s body. This really developed and refined their textile skills and got pupils to think more carefully about how clothes are made.
Once the puppets were assembled they needed to be strung. Again the pupils did this, making sure hands and feet were level and that their heads did not tilt too far forward.
If it had just been puppets the project would have already have been amazing, but it was more than puppets! After completing the assembly of the puppets, the pupils had to think about the design of their backgrounds and how the puppets would interact with the scene. These designs then needed to be scaled up and painted. What was incredible here is that some of our pupils really shone at this skill. They could visualise how to plan out sections of their grids to replicate their design.
Once backgrounds and puppets were complete the children needed to learn how to be puppeteers. Then they could put their skills together as a team to run their whole puppet show.
You might think that adults would be needed to do this, but the project is designed to ensure that the children work as a team to plan, and perform their shows. A stage manager (a pupil who is elected) takes overall control and everyone else has specific jobs to do. It is incredible how everyone realises that their job is essential to the whole show and in the rehearsal they really do pull together.
The final performance is theirs. And it was spectacular!
By chance, we sat next to someone at a meeting who told us about this project. And I am really grateful for our good luck, because it has brought a whole world of wonderful puppets to our current Year 6 and I am very excited about the work we will do with the YPPT next year. I would definitely recommend this project to anyone looking to bring something amazing to their design and technology and creative arts curriculum."