session of teacher training workshop at Tate Britain, London for 'Visual
Paths to Literacy' project July 2001
After Rachel introduced DNA's work, she discussed the way puppets
can allow children to explore difficult emotional issues and demonstrated
three quick methods of creating puppets. The group next identified
common concerns children have and these included:
· Play that leads to violence
· Gender and sex issues
In groups the teachers then created puppets and developed a short
Here are three presentations:
The head of an angry-looking woman calls 'Come on, its time for
you to go!'
A child's head whines 'Must I go?' The woman pushes the child forward,
'Now you know you have to go, you have no choice' The child is trembling
with anxiety, 'Cant I go another time? No your time has come, lets
get it over with.' A large head appears, 'Hello little one' and
he advances on the terrified child, 'Open wide, this wont hurt a
bit '. He smiles and we realise its only the Dentist!
The scene was presented in such a way to show how the dentist is
not a bad experience as some children can imagine.
Scrunched Brown Paper Puppets
The drama begins with a blank flip chart page. On this is drawn
a tangled wood in black pen. At the top is a small house with coloured
windows. Two brown paper finger puppets appear, one a bay, the other
a girl. 'I'm hungry' says the girl, 'We are completely lost' the
boy sighs. 'Its getting dark, I am frightened' she says. They wander
on until the boy calls ,'Look a house, let's go there!' 'We must
be careful, a monster might live there', replies the girl.
They go near and find the trees are giant lollipops. The boy tastes
a tile from the roof,' Its gingerbread!' he gasps. From inside the
house an old lady calls, 'Who's there? ''Just the wind' the children
sing. The old lady comes out and offers the children a bed for the
night. The children look at each other 'What shall we do?'
The scene was presented in such a way as to raise child protection
issues of how children should react to seemingly kind strangers
when they are lost.
Bottle Head Puppet
The group made a 'baby' out of a small plastic milk bottle and cloth.
The scene is father, mother with the baby, meeting a health visitor.
She interviews them' How is the feeding going?' Mum replies 'Doesn't
like fish fingers'. Health Visitor is concerned, 'Did you read the
leaflets I left? Dad says 'She can't read! but I liked the pictures
especially the mother, she looks nice' Health visitor, worried,
picks up the Baby and smells nappy, 'How about changing baby?' Mum
says ;Oh yes we'd like to change him for another one'
Health Visitor is exasperated, 'No I meant change his nappy' 'Oh
me mum does that' HV says 'Ill take the baby', Dad says 'How much
will you give us then? We tried to sell it on the Internet'
This scene was presented to highlight bad parenting with teenagers
for a PSE lesson.
Written by Colin Grigg, co-ordinator. Extract from
Visual Paths Newsletter July 2001, Teaching Literacies in the Gallery
Tate and the Institute of Education, University of London.