Solving Problems Using Puppets

 

Problem-Solving Puppet

(a technique used within an early childhood field placement)

By: Kailey Smith 

Image result for hand puppet photos of people
Here is a similar example of the puppets being used within the classroom I am placed in this semester. The puppets are used to represent people who are faced with a problem.

Introduction

Hello everyone far and wide, it’s me again, were going to jazz it up and talk about something a little more interesting that guru’s. So to get you all started, who remembers some of the activities they did in preschool? Do we all remember doing centers, and having snack? Or building with blocks or playing with our friends on the playground? I ask you these questions because today I am going to be discussing some of the techniques I see used in my placement. This placement does a lot of neat things to benefit our youth, but I decided to try and narrow it down to one to discuss today. So, one of the best techniques that I saw being displayed was the inclusion of puppets into curriculum instruction. I saw this technique as being one that was effective, because not only did it engage the students and their interests, but it also replicates some of the similar issues the students experience and show them how to problem-solve themselves.

Puppet’s Entering Curriculum Territory 

For my field placement I witnessed them using something called Second Step which was the curriculum of choice being displayed here.

Second Step: Not Just Better Students, Better People

Second Step® helps children sort through complicated emotions, make sound decisions, build positive relationships and manage strong feelings. Rooted in socia…

After clicking on the link and watching the video you all probably have a better idea of what this curriculum promotes. But in case you cannot access them for whatever reason, I will also give you a brief overview. So as an overview, second step is a social-emotional learning technique that tries to give both teachers and students the proper tools to excel both inside and outside the classroom. Because of this Second Step curriculum I was able to see the introduction of puppets, being done. Before this placement, I had never witnessed puppets being brought into the classroom to serve as a learning purpose. I have always seen them as a part of dramatic play. Therefore it was utterly shocking to see the two puppets, “Will and Sally” be brought out, and to see the students faces light up when they were actually learning about a lesson on how to play fairly. Because this was so shocking and amazing to me I decided to share it with all of you, future educators and beyond!!

So How Can This Be Effective? 

I feel like many of us may think, puppets, there is no way this is effective?! But NEWSFLASH we were all wrong. Puppets, if done correctly, are seen to teach students lessons within the classroom while keeping them engaged and focused, in infuses dramatic play with areas in social-emotional learning, and is a benefit to each child as a whole. As observed in my placement, the one puppet would present a problem, for example wanting to play with the same toy during centers. The teacher would have the puppets act out the situation, then the teacher would then stop the instruction to pose open-ended questions to the students. For example, what would you do if you were Sally? How might both Will and Sally play with the same toys? Or do you think Sally was very nice to Will when she just took the toy he was playing with? After the students respond then the puppets will act in the proper fashion, showing students the correct ways to act or how to “play fairly”. I thought this was genius and it is so easy that any educational professional could do it. I feel like puppets are underutilized and we should take advantage of this simple teaching technique.

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One More Interesting Fact 

Before I go I wanted to share with you all the last interesting fact I witnessed within this placement, that goes along with the puppets and the curriculum. This interesting take-away was that the puppets replicated the actions and diversity amongst the classroom. The instructor of this class was so I N T E N T I O N A L. Making sure her lessons with these puppets, matched the curriculum as well as issues she was seeing within her classroom with her students. So the lesson on playing fairly was about 2 students a boy and a girl who wanted to play with the same materials during center time. The girl was very upset and did not know exactly how to communicate or solve the problem so she just took the toys and went on her way. This could have been prevented if she asked to simply share, or take turns but that did not take place. So the classroom friends/puppets Will and Sally, reenacted a similar scenario to teach all the kids the lesson. It was pure genius. I loved how the teacher took something that was relevant and made it even more so. She discussed with me she tries to implement this within her classroom which is awesome. Like Will and Sally their are more puppet friends who help this classroom problem solve which is fantastic. Puppets that are all different races and nationalities. Seeing puppets that resemble these students and their cultures is great because it shows me that the teacher is acknowledging their differences and wants other peers to do so also.

Overall

So to wrap things all up, this was an excellent technique in my opinion. Using puppets to problem solve was genius, who knew that would be so effective amongst a young learning community. This infusion of dramatic play and curriculum was refreshing. If you would like anymore information on how to effectively use these strategies, you can access these links, by Cara Zelas, who discussed with scholarly articles how to use puppets in the classroom, or by reviewing Sam Patterson’s post on reasons why puppets will change your classrooms forever.  

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Penn State University future educators, using puppets effectively to discuss content area studies. Look how all the children are paying attention. Using puppets may be the change we all need in our classrooms.

Educational Guru, Who is Yours?

Who Are Your Guru’s?

By: Kailey Smith

Has anyone ever asked you a really difficult question?  You know a question where there always seems to be more than one right answer? For me this question seems to be the one asked above, “who are my educational gurus?” There is no right or wrong answer to this question, because as future educators we all see differences on how we would eventually like to run our classrooms. Each theorist that could be chosen, highlights different values and structures that they see fit to embody children and education itself. However, as a future educator, we all have our own developed philosophy of education. Therefore, it is difficult to answer this question with just one name so I narrowed it down to three.  Two of these theorists are well known. People such as Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. And the last one that gets over-looked quite a bit, for it is John Locke. In my post I will share with you who these wonderful theorists are, as well as my view on education, discussing pedagogies and insights that I see fit.

Jean Piaget
Lev Vygotsky
John Locke

My Philosophy of Education

Early Childhood Education is the foundational structure that shapes a child’s learning capabilities, and overall development. As educators we need to recognize that ALL CHILDREN ARE DIFFERENT. They all come from different backgrounds, have different home structures. That each child has their own interests that might deviate from the topics being enforced in the classroom. Also, that each child starts and ends at different academic standpoints. As an up and coming early childhood professional, it is my goal to embrace all the differences that each child has, and unify my classroom environment, so that we can learn together, and separate to benefit the whole child.

Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget fits into my philosophy of education because he looks at learning and how it allows children to sculpt their own intelligences. In simpler terms, it allows children to seek what avenues seem to fit their interests and explore them, making their own knowledge. Piaget is an influencer for the active learning styles, such as VAK, which I think it EXTREMELY relevant in 21 century education. VAK Stands for Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic learning. I think it is important to see that in a classroom of 25 kids that you may have 8 that can watch you do and activity and then remodel it accurately. Or you may have 7 students who have to hear you specifically go through the instructions, one by one so they better understand the tasks at hand. Lastly, or you may have 10 students who want to get their hands-on experiences in, and physically do the activity with you. It is important to know your learners and play to their strengths and Piaget has guided me to know that within my educational journey that I have to be well aware of this to better teach in the field of education. Also, his research on the developmental stages within children are very accurate and that knowledge and information produced has been very helpful.

Lev Vygotsky

For Lev Vygotsky, his theories discuss the issue of nurture over nature. Discussing the importance of having a supportive environment, and that regardless of your genes that your experiences, and who you are surrounded by can shape your mind, in more ways that one. I love this idea because the teacher is viewed as a facilitator or a guide. Which I feel is important. We as educators should be guiding our classrooms education, using tools such as scaffolding, and not just being cookie-cutter. I think by allowing children to see what they can do independently, with help, and then after help, you are bettering their education, and their foundation for the future. Maybe as a kid we all thought if our teachers gave us all the answers that, that would be the most beneficial. But as we grow older, we see that its not what can benefit us. By our teacher’s guiding our education, that seemed to be the most effective way to teach. I strongly believe that the ideals that Vygotsky implemented, are some of the most heavily used ideals amongst 21 century education today.

John Locke

John Locke once said that, “children’s experiences determine who they are, and these experiences are the basis of all learning.” This quote by John Locke has always reassured me that early childhood education is the field for me. As I walk into my placements, everyday I see that each child is not like the other. I witness what these children discuss whether it be at home or at school. And I see how their experiences have shaped them into the wonderful, bright children they are. I can agree to disagree with John Locke that children come into this world not knowing what all to expect. And that their upbringing and education can hinder their views on the world. However, I also think that children come into this world, and look at education with an open mind, and if they are guided in the right direction that each child can develop properly in the right direction.

TO WRAP IT UP

So, when asked “who are my educational gurus” these are the three people I see best fit. Do I believe every aspect of their philosophies embody what I would like in my classroom, ABSOLUTELY NOT! But in harmony, these three philosophers and theorists come together to help me see what education should truly embody. My goal amongst education has always been to teach, no matter the diversities. To listen and adhere to all situations and find a resolution. To be a voice for each and every child, and give them the love, respect and education that they deserve. Children learn through experiences, and guidance and that is why these three are my educational gurus. Below are some helpful websites that I think others could use to help navigate you, in finding what theorist best supports your ideas in the classroom.

https://www.learning-theories.com/

https://sites.google.com/site/technologytoolboxforeducators/about-learning/learning