While I was working on my master’s degree I had the opportunity to take a class on creative drama. It was probably one of the most fun and insightful classes I ever took and I enjoyed every minute of it. Today I wanted to share with you an activity I put together for a class of first graders.
This activity is about encouraging the participants to act out a story using puppets and through it gaining insight into themselves and others. For my example I’ll be using the story “Curious George Goes to the Hospital” by H. A. Rey, but you can always choose a different story.
Since Curious George is for younger children, the age range of participants is somewhat limited. (That doesn’t mean you can’t do it with teenagers, just be aware of how you approach the activity). I suggest to keep the ages between 4 and 8, but it depends on the group. You can also do this activity one-on-one, though I find it helps to have a group of 5 to 10 so participants can learn from one another. Also keep in mind how big your group is as well. If they’re older participants you can have more, but trying to do this activity with twenty 4-year-olds can be a bit challenging.
To begin the activity, gather everyone and read the story together. I recommend you practice reading the story aloud beforehand and make up voices for the characters, it makes things way more entertaining for all! As you read, ask the children questions to ensure they are active participants in the story.
Next divide up into groups (unless you only have a small group, then skip this step). Give each group a part of the story. For example, group one has the part when George gets an X-Ray, group two does the scene when George goes to the operating room, and group three does the part where George wakes up from surgery. You can choose which parts of the story to do depending on how many groups you divide everyone into.
Finally give each group a turn to use puppets and act out their part of the story. (Bonus points if you do it all in order!) If you didn’t separate participants into groups, just have everyone pick a role and act out the whole story. After each group or at the end of the puppet show, have the participants talk about what parts might be hard or difficult for George and ways that George could make himself feel better or less afraid. The debriefing is key and the main reason this is a therapeutic activity. By encouraging the participants to brain storm, they are actively thinking of ways they too can help themselves cope.
I did this activity with a elementary school class and it worked really well. The hardest thing was just managing the students as they tried to figure out how they would use their puppets to act out the story. You can also do this with a support group or play group in the hospital. My recommendation is that the more kids you have and the younger kids you have, the better it is to have a few extra adult hands to help keep everyone on task. Otherwise, try it out and see what you think!
Puppet Show Activity Notes
Materials Needed: Curious George Puppet, Man in the Yellow Hat Puppet, and miscellaneous doctor and nurse puppets.
Normalize health care environment