Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Puppets! They’re Not Just for Storytime: Creative Digital Media Fun, with a Shark Puppet

I am a huge fan of teaching teens how to engage with digital media and I am also super into instant photography, which I have posted a lot about here. I’m even in a instant photography group, which is where this idea comes from. A member of that group posted a picture they had taken with a shark puppet, making it look like they were being attacked by a shark, and I thought: THIS IS GENIUS AND FUN! So I ordered a shark puppet (It was $10 off of Amazon). And then the fun began and my programming brain started spinning into full gear.

Thing 2 is shocked to see a shark nearby

So here’s what I’m thinking.

As a library we can buy a variety of hand puppets to circulate. There aren’t just sharks, there are dinosaurs and unicorns and so many more. OR, we can make grab and go/make and take kits with the materials to make your own hand puppet. Either option would work.

Make your own puppets grab and go kits would be a great way to clean out those supply cabinets and inspire creativity in our tweens and teens. You would need to include something like felt pieces to make a higher quality hand puppet. Then a bunch of random things like googly eyes, pipe cleaners, yarn, etc. Pretty much anything you can think of to make a hand puppet. This could also be a good tutorial for teaching basic handsewing (which you will need to provide the supplies for as well because I believe we should never assume that someone has what they need at home to supplement a make and take kit.) Here’s a great tutorial on DIY hand sewn puppets: http://www.oneacrevintagehome.com/felt-hand-puppets/

Then you challenge tweens and teens to take fun photos of their hand puppets and share them online. You see a lot of these types of photo challenges everywhere, especially on Instagram. All you really need is an idea and a hashtag. I know that I’ve seen some libraries doing photo challenges during the pandemic, how fun would it be to add a prop?

You could make it open ended or do a daily challenge model. Here’s an example of a daily challenge outline that I found doing a quick Google search:

I would definitely avoid any challenges that asks kids to reveal personal information or space, like the where you sleep challenge in the example above.

One of the things that I did with my shark puppet is I wanted to learn how to make it look like it was wet and in the water while it was no where near the water, and there’s an app for that.

Then I decided I wanted to try and make it look scarier and like it was in a black and white movie. At one point I even added red filters to try and make it look bloody. But it was fun to use an app to explore digital media, photo manipulation and my creativity. A lot of tweens and teens are already using Insta and Snap, so they have ready access to a variety of filters. There are also a variety of fun and free apps that they may be using. And don’t forget, a shark puppet would be so cool in a Tik Tok.

There are some problems and limitations with this idea, of course, because it means that our tweens and teens have to have access to a device to take and share their pictures. A lot of them do, but there are always exceptions which we need to keep in mind. And one day when our library doors fully reopen and our makerspaces are safe, it would be a fun MakerSpace digital media station and challenge.

Puppets, they’re not just for storytime!

Though I love and use a wide variety of photo apps, all the pictures in this post were made using PhotoShop Express on an iPhone.

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