Felt. Googly eyes. Socks. Pipe cleaners. Imagination. Sound familiar yet? Puppets! Patrick Waters, a teacher of special needs students, found that using these fun little friends can help reluctant learners as a form of creative arts.
The benefits to this visual learning are sky high: it develops students’ cognitive and social skills, increases motivation, helps form a positive school environment, students score higher on standardized tests, engage in healthier behaviors at home, increase their community involvement, more in-class engagement, and provides project-based learning. That’s only what Waters believed this learning did to help his students.
Patrick believes the arts can cause a major improvement in schools for students at risk for dropping out because this learning increases motivation.
Brave Little Company, with funding from Young Audiences of Houston, came into Waters’ classroom with puppets. They brought in artists and filmmaking support to build a form a visual learning with the students.
What Waters and Brave Little Company did was gave the students a scene or plot to follow, and they created it. They started with improvisation, and ended up being able to work in a group to create a final production of a 15-minute video completely made by these students. They wrote, performed, filmed, and produced this video by themselves.
The puppet project was super beneficial because it taught the students to have a new perspective, learn improvisation, work on scene set-up, and gain writing skills.
These students, having special needs or not, have learned amazing skills through playing with puppets. I wish I could say the same. That’s pretty cool.
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