Happy 4th of July weekend, Everyone!
I hope you have some fun family time planned...cookouts, watching fireworks, etc. Remember to celebrate Freedom! :D
I was mulling over what to talk about this week, when I decided to go back through some of my seminar notes from different trainings I've done. I came across my seminar on "Ministering with Puppets". I began to think about how many times I've heard that "Puppets don't work for us"..."We don't have enough staff to do puppets"..."I'm not a puppeteer"...etc, etc. While all of these are valid reasons you may not use puppets in your ministry, I have found that there are MANY different ways to utilize this fun option, and make an exciting experience for your children. You don't need to be specially trained; you don't need a full team; AND you don't have to be having Children's Church to use them!
Sooooo....let's dive in!
FIRST OF ALL...why do we use puppets, and how do they help in Ministry?
They hold the children's attention! When a puppet that is bright colored, exciting, has a fun personality, is littler than the teacher, etc. is doing something at the front of the room, the kid's eyes will be locked on that interesting little personality! LOL
Puppets can make things more exciting, than just standing in front of the room teaching. A puppet can do silly things to get the point across, that you may feel uncomfortable doing, as an adult...or even show a bad attitude, or make a mistake, that you don't think would be good for you to actually "show" yourself, as the spiritual leader.
>>> You'd be surprised how many ways you can use a puppet, that wouldn't be possible for you, as the teacher! <<<
Now that we know how they can help in our KidMin, let's talk about some specific things we can do. Now, this will by NO MEANS be an exhaustive list, but will maybe help you start thinking outside the box...or the puppet stage, for that matter! :D
THE SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSROOM
If you are a teacher alone in a classroom, with no helper, you can still use puppets! a. Have a special suit case or box to pull out a little puppet. Now, these can be any kind! Even without moving mouths. EXAMPLE: Imagine a little bunny rabbit (stuffed animal type) that jumps out when you start telling about Jesus' resurrection. It's spring, he's excited...and he was there to see it all happen! He doesn't even have to have a moving mouth. As you are telling the story, he can jump and hop, shake or nod his head, whisper in your ear...sooooo many things you can do! b. Have a puppet help teach the memory verse. Don't feel you have to be a ventriloquist for this to work. Change your voice and move the puppet. The children will notice at first, but then since you aren't trying to hide it, they'll forget about it and watch the puppet. OR simply have the puppet be "non verbal" like above. Excited when they are getting it right, whisper in your ear, etc. Again, this can be ANY type of puppet animal, human, etc. c. While teaching your story, hold a puppet on your lap and have them interact with you while you are teaching. EXAMPLE: Shocked as events unfold, sad, happy, angry, excited, fast movements, slow movements, etc. No words are necessary! d. Lastly in this section, use a puppet as a reward, when the children are good. Pretend the puppet is very shy, and will only come out if they are good and quietly listening. Or something on that order.
If you have a small area to set up a small stage, you can use a few helpers to have puppets in your classroom. a. A short skit to go along with the day's lesson b. Teach memory verses from the stage. A puppet can interact with you, as the teacher. c. Teach theme songs d. Act out Bible stories or parts of the lesson
Have some of your class children use simple puppets to act out the story as you teach or to sing theme songs. NOTE: This option should only be used for special circumstances. For the most part, puppets should be only shown when a staff is operating them...they should appear as "alive" to the children, as possible, so what they teach is believable to them.
If you have a service-type Children's Church, you can utilize puppets a lot the same as above. But you will be able to set up a more specific staging area.
Use teen staff to perform fun songs (Go Fish Guys are great for puppets!) We usually schedule one fun song each week, and sometimes have the puppets teach an action song.
Memory verse, stores, skits....have one puppet interact with the teacher out front...interrupting the lesson, asking questions, etc. Make the instruction time fun, by adding a fun character!
Characters should always have the same puppeteer so the voice and personality remains the same. Quick "voice" training: talk slower, talk faster, talk higher, talk lower, use an accent, add a lisp, talk non-stop, or only one word responses. So many ways to create a character without having to have special training. Once your character is created, don't change it! Keep the same person with the same puppet, or two, or three. LOL I have 3 puppet characters at church that I do: > Pete is small, full of energy, always silly, and talks with a lisp. He has a pet shop...one of the puppet houses in our Junior Sanctuary. > Oreo is a skunk. She talks a little slowly and a little bit higher voice, is almost sappy sweet, and is very shy. > Frank is a furnace repair shop owner (another one of the puppet houses in our Junior Sanctuary). He talks a little lower, not too fast, and is kinda dopey. LOL
No one else has ever performed with one of these puppets when doing LIVE talking. Of course, for someone to use them in a prerecorded song is just fine.
Whatever you do, make sure to have practice time, so the puppet performances are believable.
Puppets can be used within your community, either as a solo puppeteer or as a team.
Street Ministry Events a. Prerecorded skits without words are awesome for ministering to different ethnic groups. Check out "Beyond Words" by CreativeMin.com I used these in Warsaw, Poland and also Okinawa, Japan. It's hard to find things in all different languages. These are also done with only 1 or 2 puppeteers. :D b. Simple songs without using lots of props will really draw attention. c. Choose only a few different songs or skit, and continue to repeat until the time is up. EXAMPLE: We set up a simple puppet stage at one of our little town's street bazaars. We just went through a simple routine of 3 songs and just kept repeating. What a crowd we had! Then, you can hand out invites for Children's Church, a Sunday School Picnic, VBS, etc.
City Parks Set up at the city park and do the same as above. Doesn't have to be a special event.
Children's Hospitals Plan a 20-30 min. program. Keep it simple. It can be pre-recorded songs, Beyond Words skits, an ad lib skit with a puppet and a teacher out front, etc. Be creative and minister to families in the hospital.
Birthday Parties We have been "hired" to do children's birthday parties. Again, keep it simple. And for our "hire", we usually just ask for a donation. This is part of our ministry!
Parades These are fun! And yes, we HAVE done a Christmas parade in Wisconsin! Whew! That was cold. LOL Dress your puppets to match what the parade is. Play music from the inside of the vehicle, or from speakers in a trailer. Have your puppeteers do puppets over the sides of an enclosed trailer (of course with an open top).
Any Kind of Children's Gathering Just be creative! As much as you want to practice and have a good performance, puppets don't need to be only a large team inside a room at your church. Think outside the box!
REMEMBER: What are puppets for? To hold attention and to make things more exciting!
So, how can YOU utilize this ministry in your area? I'd love to hear!
Well, that's all for today.
Have a blessed 4th of July weekend!
Sara Vojtasek & Joel's Vision Ministries
Hey...don't forget to head over to Facebook and join my new group for KidMin Training, etc. We'd love to have you! facebook.com/groups/joelsvision
See you there!