by Nancy Chambers, 5th Grade Teacher
Puppets are just plain fun!!! And they can be used to teach both the audience and the puppeteer! For over 20 years the Heritage Christian 5th grade class has been writing and performing puppet plays. This valuable learning experience teaches many things, and is an excellent way to present God’s Word to various audiences. For the past several years they have performed for pre-K through grade 4, for their families, and for Oakridge Assisted Living residents. I would like to convey the value of this experience for the students with this article.
Mrs. Cheryl Dillon started this unit when she was teaching at Heritage, and I quickly saw how wonderful it would be to continue this tradition after she retired. It includes these steps:
- The students read plays, and learn the components of a play.
- Parent volunteers facilitate the students working in small groups to write the plays. They are instructed that the play must revolve around a Biblical principle and verse.
- Parent volunteers assist the students in making elaborate sock puppets.
- The students practice and refine the plays.
- They design play programs.
- They do 4 different performances.
Some of the values noted by a parent as well of the students:
One parent, Arlene Samuelson commented, “Being the creative/design type, I’ve always helped with the making of the puppets with my 3 previous children. In my still developing way of knowing how God works, I was focused on how my talent will bless others. My schedule this year only allowed me to be available for the volunteer position needed in the writing phase. So there I was…helping the kids write a play! And wow was I blessed! I witnessed The Holy Spirit move in these girls in a mighty way to collaborate on an idea, to focus on the school theme of ‘revive’, and create characters to bring their ideas to life! I didn’t have to be a ‘writer’ to help! It was fun to rely on Him in this writing process and then be revived by Him through it. I love how God uses those who just say ‘Here I am’ however ill equipped we may feel. I encourage any parent who has opportunity to volunteer in their child’s class, fundraiser, or event, to do so. You will get more than you came to give. I was truly revived in this one volunteer interaction with my daughter and her classmates.”
Some students commented:
On things learned- “You have to work heartily for the Lord, and He will reward you. I learned that revive is to be on fire for Christ. If I was a missionary, I could REVIVE people to help more people be on fire for Christ.
“One thing that I learned was if you work together, you can do awesome and amazing things. I learned that anyone can be revived, and I wish I could revive more people.”
“I learned that I should pray when I am scared or stressed.”
“We gave a revival in sharing God’s Word about faith. I want to keep reviving in God.”
“I learned that all people can change and that fear is just a reason to try harder.”
“I learned I need to be bold about my faith, and maybe more.” In giving out God’s truth, she said, “It showed how and why you do need to really stand up for yourself and God.”
When asked what was the most rewarding thing about the plays, a student commented, “That we glorified God with them and that God was pleased.”
This year’s principles the students chose included:
“People’s hearts can be changed. God can bring revival to everyone and everything.”
“Prayer brings revival when things look bad.”
“When the Lord is in our hearts, we are free with Him.”
“Faith in God and prayer is all we need to get through this crazy life.”
Some of my objectives were:
- To convey the theme of revival
- To learn to turn to God with life’s problems
- To see the value of prayer and living out one’s faith
- The importance of witnessing
- To draw Biblical principles and apply them to life
- To give students the opportunity to be creative
- Group cooperation, humility, and encouragement
- To integrate language, drama, Bible and art
- To teach Biblical worldview
- To utilize Scripture and for many years, retell a Bible story
There is no doubt, this unit is one of the highlights of 5th grade. It is truly a valuable learning experience in writing, acting, and bringing God’s Word alive in a fun way. Many students will keep their puppets for years, with fond memories, and hopefully see how their play deepened their faith and was opportunity to be a witness for Christ.