>>> It's not about the length...it's about the quality & content! :D <<<
Hey Everyone! I hope your week has been blessed.
I've been thinking a lot about puppetry lately...and more specifically - puppetry for those that don't have a lot available nor a lot of experience.
We will be heading to Bangladesh in February for a month of KidMin training, puppetry, and crusades. And in the mean time, it is necessary for me to decide on some "simple" puppetry ideas that will work without a lot of recourses and without a lot of experience. Hence....my brainstorming! :D
So in this process, I was thinking about those of us that would like to use puppets in ministry, but may not have enough people for puppeteers, or even a number of puppets to use.
Oreo is a beautiful puppet that I purchased from Axtell Expressions. They have beautifully designed puppets...but they aren't cheap. :-/ I have a few of their puppets that I have either won in a competition, saved and purchased, or held fund raisers to purchase. So, don't ever think you can't get one of these! Just plan ahead, if you don't have the funds readily available.
OK that was totally not planned to promote a company...but hey...their puppets are worth it! :D
So back to my little Oreo.....
If you can find a cute puppet...doesn't even have to be a professional one!...you can create a personality for them, and make it into something awesome!
It's not all about having amazing skits and presentations. It's not all about having 10 puppets and 20 props for a song. Just one simple puppet can tell a story or keep the children's attention.
Let me explain....
If you have TWO people in your class or service, you and one other, you can have one be the puppeteer and one would remain outside the puppet stage.....(pause)...let's discuss staging first. You do NOT have to have a professional stage! Simply get a heavy, dark colored sheet or piece of fabric, and hang in a doorway between high backed chairs, or even have 2 people hold it (that is if you have enough staff for that). Don't ever give up on an idea just because you don't have all the professional equipment that others have.
Now, back to Oreo's Puppet "Shorts".
"Shorts" have become a new thing in the media industry it seems....YouTube calls them Shorts, IG and Facebook call them Reels...you know what I mean. About 60 seconds or less of content in video form. Well, I would say they should be LIVE "Shorts". Don't record them...let the children see and interact with the puppet. But the point of this blog post is that doing very short segments is just fine!
Choose your puppet - Create a character by voice, action, movement, style - and use them IN CHARACTER whenever it's needed.
Following are some ideas:
1. Ad Lib (with purpose/theme). Just chat with the teacher out front and the children about last week's lesson, how their week went, what they look forward to the following week. Get the children involved and excited...most of all connection!
2. Open the service with a fun welcome by the puppet character. Introduce the theme.
3. Take up offering, make announcements, recognize birthdays.
4. Recap last week's Bible story all wrong and get the kids involved by having them correct the puppet as he/she tells it.
5. Tell the joke of the day.
6. Lead an action song.
7. Teach the memory verse.
8. As the teacher is telling the story, have the puppet interrupt and try to tell it for them...but of course getting it all wrong. I even have a skit written just like this! LOL (You can check out "Solo Puppet Sermons" HERE, if you'd like.
The point of it is....create your simple character...and find ways to incorporate into the service that will be exciting and fun for the children.
NOTE: Don't choose a voice that is hard to use or remember the next time you want to do the puppet. Choose something simple that will be easy to continue with, easy to remember, and comfortable on your throat! :-P
A few examples:
Talk slower than normal
Talk faster than normal
Ad a lisp
Add an accent (one that you can easily recreate each time!)
Raise your voice
Lower your voice
Talk nasally (through your nose)
Combine a couple of these for even more of a change.
Oreo's voice is a little higher than mine and she talks slowly and she is VERY shy. I also do a little character we call Pete. You can find him HERE. He is the kid's favorite. He talks fast, with a lisp, and has LOTS of energy! Fun story about Pete.... Many years went by before any of our kids knew that I was Pete's puppeteer. I left for a mission trip to Warsaw, Poland and was gone 4 months. Of course, Pete wasn't in Children's Church, during that time. When I came back, I secretly went backstage before the kids came in and got Pete ready. Pete made an appearance that day and the kids gasped with excitement. The only problem is...then their suspicions were confirmed. Sis. Sara WAS indeed Pete! LOL I'll never forget that day. :D The excitement the kids showed when Pete made his appearance made it all worth it!
Now on the flip side, there ARE some things that you should never do with a puppet...
Here's some DON'T(s)!
Do NOT have the puppet lead in prayer. (Even though we try to make them believable, puppets are fake. We don't want the children to relate prayer to a fake puppet.)
Do NOT have them ask Jesus into their hearts, become a Christian, etc.
Do NOT have the puppet get baptized.
NEVER let your children see the puppets behind stage or just lying around. If we are going to make them believable, they must ONLY be visible when on a puppeteers hand and looking alive.
NOTE: If you do need the puppet to pray or something on that order about the story or skit they were just doing, I like to have the puppet end by saying...hmmm...I'd better go think about this, or even saying pray about this would be fine. Just don't let the children SEE the puppet praying.
Well, that's all for now!
Let me know if any of these ideas are new to you. I'd love to hear how you use them. :D
Sara Vojtasek & Joel's Vision Ministries