Puppet Pals is a fantastic app for any age level to create a show (a video) for almost any topic. While I have purchased the Director’s Pass upgraded version, the app itself is free. The Director’s Pass has 13 actor sets (each with 5 to 11 characters) with 3 backdrops for each actor set. The Director’s Pass is a one time fee and you will have access to all of the current sets as well as any future ones – a fantastic deal, if you ask me. The free version only furnishes a Wild West theme with 6 characters, 1 prop, and 3 backdrops.
When I first started planning this lesson, I was really stumped, how do you build a lesson (other than studying the gold rush, cliche cowboys, or the Wild West) around such a specific theme? Then it hit me! It wasn’t about the theme but the content. Puppet Pals Lesson (PDF Lesson)
So I put together this sample (and rough draft) video to highlight how the free version could be used to support the study of figurative language also seen below).
I have included the Henry & Henrietta.
After creating the video, I have a few “wise words of wisdom” (pardon the alliteration):
- Plan & Storyboard: Lay out your story in a storyboard or graphic organizer.
- Dialogue & Stage Direction: Make sure your dialogue is written and clear as to who speaks when (also what voice you will use for each actor), what actions the actors need to perform (e.g. move off screen, come closer, walk, appear on screen, turn, appear smaller, etc…), and what actions need to take place between scene changes (e.g. rearrange actors, have an actor move off stage or into the background).
- Group Assignments: If you are working in a group, you will want to assign parts and actors and plan accordingly. Not everyone may have an actor assignment. One person may be responsible for the changing of the backdrop or prop.
- Dress Rehearsal: Once your story is written, parts are assigned, and dialogue is rehearsed, you are ready to perform. I would suggest doing a dry run before recording (like a table read).
Slide to Perform: The Basics
- How to Select Characters: Tap “Press to Start”. Select actors by tapping on them (a green check mark will appear in the bottom of the actor when it is selected). Tap “Next”.
- How to Select Backdrops: Select backdrops by tapping on them (a green check mark will appear in the bottom of the actor when it is selected). Tap “Next”.
- How to Change Backgrounds while filming: For full screen image, change the orientation of your iPad to landscape (held horizontally).
- How to Turn Character, Change their Size, or Move them from the Stage: Tap & drag a character to move, pinch out to enlarge, pinch in to reduce, and double-tap to change direction. Tap & drag actor out of area of backdrop to remove them from a scene.
- How to Record, Pause, & Stop: Tap Record (red circle). You can Pause (2 vertical parallel lines) in between scenes, Tap Stop (white square) when finished. Click Play (green triangle) to preview. If you are satisfied with the quality of your show, you are ready to Save.
- How to Save: Tap Save (looks like old-school 3.5 inch disk). Type a title in the space provided. Tap Save.
- How to Export: When you launch the app, tap “Saved Shows”. You will be presented with an option to “Export”. Your show will be saved in the video section of your camera roll, photo app that looks like a sunflower.
- How to Upload to YouTube or Email: From your camera roll, locate the video. Tap the rectangle with the arrow in the upper right hand corner. You will have the option to email the video (many videos may be too large for this option), send it to YouTube (will have to sign in to an account), or copy the video. If none of these options seem to work, you can always pull the videos off the device when you sync your iPad to your designated computer.
Possible Topics for Puppet Pals (without Director’s Pass)
- Illustrate a vocabulary word, math problem, or scientific concept
- Recreate a story in a different setting
- Apply today’s government and economic structure to that of the Wild West
- Create a news story (interview a character or a witness)
- Illustrate a poem (include various elements of figurative language: simile, metaphor, personification, alliteration, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, idioms, cliches) or practice rhyme scheme & meter
- Write a story using a certain number of prepositional phrases, adverbs, adjectives, etc…
- Create a story to illustrate humor or another emotion or depict sarcasm or irony (verbal, dramatic, situational) or even a paradox
- Create a story to illustrate word play & literary techniques (spoonerisms, wellerisms, rhetoric,puns,
- Create a story to narrate conflict or climax
- Create a story that is a biographical retelling of a historical figure from the era (or a historical fiction account) – check out Time Warp Trio for some great extensions and ideas (also has an Old West section) to spice up your show.
- Create a talk show to have various characters share their story or debate a topic.
Tech Camp Assignment: Choose 1 of the following show ideas:
- Option A: Create a Puppet Pal Show using the existing characters and backdrops that highlights at least 3 idioms, 3 prepositions, 1 metaphor, and 1 simile. Export your show (as a video) so others can see it.
- Option B: Create a Puppet Pals Show using at least 2 one-syllable rhyming words, 2 two or three-syllable rhyming words, 2 idioms, and 2 alliterations.
You may use the resources highlighted here to assist you with your show: Idiom Dictionary, Idiom Site, Rhymezone, Ryhmer, The Preposition, Your Dictionary: Alliteration, Your Dictionary: Similes & Metaphors, Buzzle.com: Metaphors.
Director’s Pass: If you have the director’s pass, you not only have a plethora of characters and backgrounds to choose from (Arthropod Armada, Christmas, Entertainers, Fair Weather Friends, Fairytale, Monsters, On the Farm, Pirates, Political Partay, Talk Shows, Thanksgiving, Wild West, and Zombie Attack) but also the ability to add actor(s) and background(s) from your photo collection (either images you have taken or images saved from the internet). These images can be cropped to create your own puppets.
Check out other apps like it: Toontastic
There is also a great children’s book series that is useful to illustrate idioms: More Parts and Even More Parts by Tedd Arnold (Say What You Mean Please Lesson). Teachers may even want to have students create a table of figurative & literal idiom meanings prior to the activity.
©2011. Lisa Johnson. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce for classroom use granted.