Monday, March 21, 2011

Puppet Plays From Picture Books

Creating puppet plays from favorite picture books is a great way to improve fluency in early readers.
According to Tim Rasinski, "Fluency is the ability to read accurately, quickly, expressively, with good phrasing, AND with good comprehension."
According to me, Rasinski is the guru of fluency. He has spoken and written on fluency and has a vast database of fluency research. I got the chance to hear him speak once and he was phenomenal and funny. very very funny. Check out his website, it has lots of great fluency resources.
Repeated readings of a familar text help your child orchestrate their reading strategies on the text. Performing the text can be a fun way to practice a repeated reading.
Consider retyping the text or writing the text onto chart paper with a large font and plenty of spacing between words. This will help your child be able to manage holding the puppet and reading the text.

Book suggestions:
I Am Going! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)Elephant and Piggie books like I Am Going! This is a good choice because it only uses two characters.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?Brown Bear, Brown Bear was one that worked well when I taught first graders-- especially if you have several students to do the play. There are printable puppets at DLTK for each animal in the story-- as well as ideas for using the puppets.

I also love this extensive list of K-3 Reader's Theater
There are scripts for books like:
"Fire! Fire!" Said Mrs. McGuire"Fire, Fire!" Said Mrs. Guire By Bill Martin Jr.
As well as poems by authors such as Margaret Wise Brown

Things to look for when choosing a picture book to turn into a puppet play
  • 2-3 characters in the story-- so children don't have to manipulate too many puppets
  • repetitive texts
  • familiar sight words
  • a story that is able to be retold
  • a book or story that interests your child
According to Tim Rasinski's site, when choosing books to teach fluent reading, consider these factors:

The Child can read 95% of words in the book accurately-- this article will tell you how to calcuate accuracy
The Child automatically recognizes most of the words
The Child can read the text with expression and proper phrasing

Do your children perform puppet plays?
Where have you located good scripts for puppet play?


  1. We LOVE using puppets. And we have those same puppets from the Dollar Tree, thanks for suggesting a book to go with it...I looking on my library's website right now!

  2. I love this idea, and completely believe in the fluency effects too...I'm linking to this post over at

  3. Great idea! My kids loved to put on puppet show when they were little. It usually got pretty silly. They had a hard time thinking of what to do. I wish I'd thought of this. I'm sharing this on facebook, twitter, and digg. Thanks for sharing such a great idea!

  4. I LOVE puppets and reader's theatre - both are so great for fluency as you said, and also for all that creative thinking involved. I have a post about how to develop a reader's theatre script you might like:

  5. This is an awesome post - and thanks for the link. We have a puppet theater as well, but so far daughter has not been interested in replaying the books. It was interesting for me to see how her fluency improves over time - there was time when she was switching to silent reading and was unwilling to read aloud, but now she is quite willing to "perform" and reads with good intonation and feelings. Very fun! One book that might be good for theater play is I Read to You, You Read to Me and its sequels. They involve two people and a lot of back-and-forth dialog. However, it assumes pretty fluent reading (or memorization) before you can read these texts.

  6. I love this post! Thanks for the great ideas! I just read about the Now I'm Reading plays, which include scripts to go with popular stories. Those would be fun with puppets as well:,shop.product_details/flypage,flypageik.tpl/product_id,298/option,com_virtuemart/Itemid,613/

  7. Puppets are a great way to bring a story to life! It's also important for children to develop the skills of retelling a story in order (recount), puppets can make this so much easier!

  8. Oh my son ADORES it when we play out a picture book.. he has so much fun doing it!! Love this post!!


  9. We like puppets, but also reenact books with ourselves and our toys - my daughter especially loves having her dolls act out a story.

  10. How wonderful! I love the entire thing...from concept to implementation!

    I plan to share on Facebook & Twitter, too!