Bullying Prevention Using Dramatic & Cooperative Play

bully prevention kids puppets

Bullying Prevention Month is a campaign that is truly important to me and the entire S&S team. I genuinely enjoy coming up with new and creative ways that kids can use our products to gain a greater understanding of what bullying is, raise awareness, and ultimately put an end to bullying.

This year, while thinking about what type of projects to create and share, I remembered an article I had read on the Parents Magazine website on social and emotional skills and dramatic play. The article talked about the importance of dramatic and cooperative play, reinforcing children learn how to take turns, share responsibility, and problem solve when engaging in these activities. What undoubtedly stood out in this article was simple, but resonated with me all these months later. “When children pretend to be different characters, they have the experience of walking in someone else’s shoes, which helps teach the moral skill of empathy.” Maybe it’s as a result of my mother always telling my sister and I that, “you can’t judge someone until you walk a mile in their shoes” or possibly some other profound reason. Regardless, I had my idea for this year’s project: Using puppets to create mini plays about bullying prevention!

Suggested supplies:

How to Make Bullying Prevention Puppets

bully prevention puppets

Step 1: You can either keep the face and arms of your puppets white, or paint them by mixing a neutral skin tone of your choice. Start with a dab of white paint and add small amounts of red, yellow, and/or brown until you get the desired tone. Allow to dry. Remember to keep the spaces blank where you want their shirt to be.

Tip:  Place a piece of scrap paper inside the puppet before you paint to prevent the two sides from sticking together.

Step 2: Once the paint is dry, create a face and shirt for your puppet using the fabric markers. Kids can have fun with different facial expressions and get creative with designs on their shirts. Add bullying prevention saying and quotes, like “Stand Up” or “No Bully Zone”. You can either draw the eyes on or use wiggly eyes!

Step 3: Add hair! You can cut a piece of felt into fringe as hair, or use strands of yarn. Attach them to your puppet using hot glue for fast results (have an adult help) or tacky glue.

Tip: For extra curly or textured hair, you can pull apart the strands of yarn. This gives extra volume, as you can see on the girl puppet with the “Be You” shirt.

Puppet Activity Ideas for Bullying Prevention

Break into groups of 2-4 children. For this project, it is not important that the groups all have the same amount of kids. Have the groups discuss a situation in which bullying could take place. This situation could be something they experienced, witnessed, or a made-up story that helps explain the different types of bullying and steps that can help prevent it. Children should be encouraged to develop characters and personas, and even name the puppets.

Some of the questions you could ask the children to think about and come up with ideas around:

  • Describe the situation in which the bullying took place.
  • How did these actions make the victim feel?
  • How could the action have been stopped?
  • What would be a more appropriate or desirable solution?

Let the children decorate their puppet to be characters in their show. Children using puppets may more easily open up and be willing to communicate thoughts or feelings about the subject. Be sure to remind students that all group members should have a puppet who appears in the show.

pupper theater bully prevention

This project can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. It could easily stretch to multiple days, and easily can be refined to work for almost any age group. If your kids are a little older, have them write a script for their show. You can introduce or reinforce the basic elements of storytelling, scriptwriting and even some basic storyboarding techniques. If your kids seem to be engaged by using dramatic play, encourage them to elaborate further on their puppet shows like adding music or additional props. These shows can be practiced and performed at school wide Bullying Prevention events, Parents’ Night, or upcoming Talent Shows helping to spread the word of the importance of bullying prevention.

Of course, we were excited to test this idea! We decorated puppets and designed a puppet theater made from cardboard and some basic materials. Learn how to make a DIY Puppet Theater here.

Submitted by: Denise Carter, Product Manager at S&S Worldwide

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