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Puppet Pals, not just for kids

I first learned about Puppet Pals in kinder21’s recent post about connecting her classroom to China, and the very next day it came up in my class.

My students had divided a book we were reading into chapters, and each group was responsible for creating a video of that chapter’s main events.

It was a good way to review in a dynamic and memorable way.  The history teacher across the hall had been teaching his students to make Common Craft videos, and I offered this as an alternative to filming a live scene.

In an act of media fluency one student said “I think the app my sister is using in Kindergarten would be perfect for this!”  He described how it worked and it seemed interesting, so we quickly downloaded the free app and started testing it out.

Puppet Pals brings out the creative inner child in anyone who picks it up.  You can choose pre-set characters, or upload your own images and set them in pre-set or uploaded scenes of your choosing.

When the scene is set, you can hit record and narrate or give voices to the characters as you move them around the scene.  It’s essentially a puppet show that an individual can perform and film at the same time.

If you’ve seen a young child at play, moving toys around and giving them voices, this is the digital recording of that very same phenomenon.

The videos are fun to watch and the students have to summarize, problem-solve, collaborate, plan and execute the project… without even realizing they are using so many important 21st Century skills.

I love Puppet Pals, it’s going to become a standard fim-making option in my classroom.

Students use smart phones to research and edit their script while creating a Puppet Pals video on an iPad.

Tech tools

I have used several tech tools in the past couple of years and one that I keep going back to is hippocampus.org. It has short video clips available for all subjects and is geared to regular ed and ap students. I find this website most helpful in introducing new topics or units to my students. The video clips for history provide primary source documents as well as a written version of the audio for students to go back and review without having to re-listen to the entire clip. When I use this website I usually have the students watch three to four video clips within a class period in the MAC lab along with answering questions for each topic. This website could also be used for review before exams or especially final exams and the students could watch the clips at home with access to the internet. 

I have not yet taken advantage of this tool yet, but each educator who registers can create their own hippocampus webpage for their class. This would allow the teacher to post only those clips needed by the teacher instead of the students having to search for them.

A draw back to this website would be that there is no “real action” for the history video clips but rather just a collection of pictures (while still valuable as primary sources). This could cause a decline in student interest without real life action.

http://www.hippocampus.org/