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close this book Tools for teaching - A visual aids workshop, and instruction manual for health educators
close this folder Session 1. Introduction to the visual aids workshop
close this folder Handout 1.8.1 Making & using visual aids (Supplementary learning materials)
View the document Introduction
View the document 1. Chalkboard
View the document 2. Charts
View the document 3. Diagrams
View the document 4. Flip charts
View the document 5. Flannelboard
View the document 6. Posters
View the document 7. Comic books
View the document 8. Pamphlets
View the document 9. Flyers
View the document 10. Flexiflans
View the document 11. Games
View the document 12. Puppets
View the document 13. Masks
View the document 14. Slide presentations

12. Puppets

A puppet show is an effective way to deliver a health message in an entertaining, original, and humorous manner. Puppets can "talk" to people and tease them in ways that might seem inappropriate in real life. Conversely, people - and particularly children - who are ashamed to speak out in a group will frequently be willing to ex press themselves freely to a puppet.


How to write the script:

There are several things to keep in mind when you write the script for a puppet show.

1) Puppet shows appeal to people's feelings rather than their intellect. Consequently, they are most useful for awakening sympathy or antagonism toward certain ideas, attitudes, or procedures. Do not use a puppet show to give technical information.

2) Keep the message simple.

3) Tailor the message to the target audience.

4) Develop the message logically.

• Have a narrator introduce the story and comment on the action from time to time.

• Let the story evolve out of conversation between characters,

a) present a problem or conflict

b) build suspense

c) resolve the conflict

• Incorporate action as well as words.


5) Present the message with humor.

6) Choose the characters carefully.

• Limit the number of characters to what may be easily managed by the puppeteers.

• Exaggerate the personalities. The characters should be symbolic rather than specific, i.e. a villain should be very evil, the hero extremely brave, etc.


How to make the puppets:

Puppets can be made easily and inexpensively from a variety of materials. Following are just a few examples.




stiff paper or cardboard

colored marking pens

flat sticks 30 cm.-35 cm. (12"-14") long



1) Draw and color two faces with different expressions for each character on stiff paper and cut out the shapes of the heads and upper bodies.

2) Glue one face of the lollipuppet on the front of the stick and one on the back.



Source: Bridging the Gap: A Participatory Approach to Health and Nutrition Education (Save the Children, 1982). p. 42.




1 stick 30 cm.-35 cm. (12"-14") long

1 stick 18 cm. -20 cm. (7"-8") long

old newspaper

fabric scraps, yarn, etc.


marking pens



1) Use string to attach the shorter stick to the longer stick at right angles about 2" from one end. The long stick will form the body of the puppet; the shorter cross stick becomes the arms.

2) Make a dress for the puppet from a piece of fabric folded in half. Cut a small hole in the center of the fold and insert the short end of the body stick through the hole. Tie the dress around the puppet's "waist" so that it will stay on. If you want a "fat" puppet, stuff the body with newspaper or other filler.

3) Wad some newspaper into a 2"-3" ball and place it over the short end of the "body" stick.

4) Tie a piece of white or light brown fabric over the newspaper "head" and tuck the raw edges into the neckline of the dress.

5) Draw the puppet's face with marking pens and add hair and/or a hat as desired.

Stick Puppets




a sock

old newspaper

marking pens


fabric scraps, yarn, etc.



1) Stuff the toe of a sock with wadded-up newspaper or other filler to form the puppet's head.

2) Tie loosely with string allowing enough room to insert your forefinger up into the puppet's head.

3) Draw the face of the puppet with marking pens. Add hair, hat, trimmings, etc. as desired.

NOTE: The sock should be "stretchy" enough to allow this puppet to use its hands (your thumb and middle finger) to gesture, hold things, etc.





flour and water paste

strips of news or other paper (brown paper, old phone books, catalogs, etc.)

white glue

poster paint or colored marking pens

stiff paper or cardboard

fabric scraps, yarn, etc.



1) Blow up the balloon to the desired size.

2) Soak small strips of paper in flour and water paste and cover the entire surface of the balloon except for a small neck opening at the bottom. Apply several layers of paper strips.

3) Shape features out of stiff paper or cardboard and attach to the balloon head. Cover these features with several layers of paper strips.

4) Let the puppet head dry.

5) Seal with a light coat of white glue diluted with a little water. Dry.

6) Pop the balloon and paint the face. Apply another coat of glue and let dry.

7) Follow the pattern on the next page to make the body of the puppet.

8) Glue the neckline of the body to the neck of the puppet's head.

9) Add hair, trim, and details as desired.

Papier maché hand puppet





Cut 2. Place right sides of fabric together and stitch on dotted seam line. Turn and attach to puppet head.

Body pattern



Bag puppets work particularly well for health messages about the mouth, throat, or teeth because they can open and close their mouths.



square bottom paper bag

colored marking pens



1) Fold over the bottom of the bag.

2) Draw a face on the bag with the mouth placed on the fold.

3) Unfold the bag and draw the inside of the mouth.

4) Open and close your hand to make the puppet speak and eat.

Bag puppet


To make a slightly more elaborate puppet from an envelope-style paper bag:

1) Fold over the bottom of the bag.

2) Draw a face on heavy paper or cardboard.

3) Glue the cardboard face onto the folded bag.

Elaborate puppet



Puppets can be made from almost anything if you just use your imagination. Does your script call for a very conservative, "square" character? Make your puppet out of a box attached to a stick or made into a hand puppet.

Miscellaneous puppets - box


Use a plastic food container like margarine comes in...

Miscellaneous puppets - plastic


...or drape a bandana over your hand and stick your finger into a hole poked in an old tennis ball.

Miscellaneous puppets - Tennis ball


Peace Corps volunteers in Zamboanga made a delightful puppet by securing a coconut shell to a stick. They attached "rotten" teeth to its mouth and made "googledy" eyes from coils taken from an old spiral notebook.

Miscellaneous puppets - Coconut shell


The puppet opens and closes its mouth by means of a small hinge and a string connected to the top of its head.

Miscellaneous puppets - String





How to present a puppet show:

1) Create a stage:

• Set a large table on its side.



• Hang a blanket over a rope tied between two trees.



• Lean a large board against two chairs.



However you decide to make your stage, be sure that the puppeteers are hidden from view.


2) Give each puppeteer a copy of the script.

3) Keep puppets - especially flat puppets - facing the audience.

4) Move and nod the puppet when it speaks. Use as much action in your story as you can.

5) Speak loudly so that everyone can hear. Use a microphone if necessary and available.

6) Practice the puppet show before presenting it.

On the following pages are two sample scripts for puppet shows. The first has been written for children. The second is targeted toward an adult audience. The scripts are presented in English but should be translated into the local dialect before presentation to a barrio audience.


Sample script



Featuring bag puppets:

Sweet Tooth




Sugar Mouth

And the villainous coconut man, OLD ROT.



The show opens with SWEET TOOTH and LOLLIPOP eating candy. (The persons working each puppet use their free hands to put candy in the mouths of the puppets. The hand holding the puppet opens and closes to show SWEET TOOTH and LOLLIPOP chewing the candy.)

SOUND EFFECTS: Crunch, crunch, crunch.

SWEET TOOTH: M-m-mm-mm. This candy is really good.

LOLLIPOP: Yum-yum. It sure is. I love sweets! I could eat candy all day.

SWEET TOOTH: So could I. But it really makes me thirsty. C'mon, let's get a coke.

LOLLIPOP: Okay, that's a good idea. I'm thirsty too.

Both puppets go off stage but return very quickly with their cokes. (The puppeteers use their free hand to lift a coke bottle to each puppet's mouth.)

SOUND EFFECTS: Glug, glug, glug.

While SWEET TOOTH and LOLLIPOP are drinking their cokes, OLD ROT appears at stage right, bouncing up and down and singing.

OLD ROT: Hurray! Hurray! I'm happy today! Two more victims are coming my way!

OLD ROT disappears from view.

LOLLIPOP (looking around): What was that, Sweet Tooth? I thought I heard someone singing...

SWEET TOOTH (still drinking coke - glug, glug, glug): Huh? Someone singing? You must be crazy. There isn't anybody around. (Drinks more coke - glug, glug.)

LOLLIPOP: Yeah, I guess you're right. I don't see anybody around. But I could have sworn I heard someone singing...

OLD ROT pops up for a moment at stage left, bounces around, opening and closing his mouth once or twice, and then quickly disappears from view.

LOLLIPOP: Oh well...hey! c'mon, let's get some more candy and go over to watch the basketball game.

OLD ROT pops up again, bouncing.

OLD ROT: Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! ...and quickly disappears from view.

SWEET TOOTH (finishing his coke): Okay. I think I'll get some chiclets. Say! Maybe we'll see the gang over there.

SWEET TOOTH and LOLLIPOP move across the stage, leave at stage left, then reappear at stage right. They meet PEARL and SPARKLE coming from stage left. The friends stop to talk to each other

SPARKLE: Hi, Sweet Tooth! Hi, Lollipop! Where are you going?

SWEET TOOTH (nodding to SPARKLE and PEARL): Hi, Sparkle. Hi, Pearl. Lollipop and I are going over to the sari-sari store to get some candy. Then we're going to go watch the basketball game. Why don't you come with us?

While SPARKLE and SWEET TOOTH are talking, LOLLIPOP moves over by PEARL because he has a crush on her. PEARL nods at LOLLIPOP.

LOLLIPOP: You have such a pretty smile, Pearl. And your teeth are so white. How do you do it?

PEARL: I brush my teeth after every meal. And I don't munch out on candy all the time like you do. I don't drink sweet, fizzy drinks like coke or pepsi either.

OLD ROT appears at the side of the stage, bouncing up and down as usual.

OLD ROT (looking at PEARL): Shut up! Shut up!

(to the audience): That girl thinks she's so smart just because she has white teeth and a pretty smile! She just doesn't know how yummy candy is. I bet she even eats a lot of fruits and vegetables! Yuck!

OLD ROT disappears from view.

PEARL: Show me your teeth, Lollipop.

LOLLIPOP is ashamed and tries to hide behind another puppet. SPARKLE starts to tease him.

SPARKLE: Yeah, show us your teeth. C'mon now, open your mouth. You too, Sweet Tooth, open up!

SWEET TOOTH. and LOLLIPOP open their mouths wide. Their teeth are all rotten.

OLD ROT pops up again at the side of the stage and addresses the audience:

OLD ROT: Isn't that a beautiful sight, folks? I just love black, rotten teeth, don't you?

He disappears from view.

Now SUGAR MOUTH comes on stage for the first time. He has his hand on his jaw and seems to be in pain.

SPARKLE: Hey Sugar Mouth! Where are you going?

SUGAR MOUTH: Mm-mm-umph...

SPARKLE: What's the matter, Sugar Mouth? Can't you talk?

SUGAR MOUTH (groaning): I have a toothache (groan, groan). It really hurts.

Once again OLD ROT bounces into view.

OLD ROT: Did you hear that, folks? He's got a toothache! Isn't that wonderful? Heh! heh! heh!

OLD ROT disappears from view.

PEARL: Why don't you ask your mother to take you to the dentist at the Rural Health Unit?

SUGAR MOUTH: No, I don't want to. I'm afraid. Ow-ow! My mouth really hurts. I think I'll get a coke. That will make me feel better.

OLD ROT (popping into view for just a moment): Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

SPARKLE: Don't do that, Sugar Mouth. Coke is bad for your teeth.

LOLLIPOP: What do you mean, coke is bad for your teeth? Coke tastes good. I saw you drinking one just the other day at Pearl's birthday party.

SPARKLE: That's right. Once in a while, on very special occasions, I drink a coke. But as soon as I finish, I rinse my mouth out well with clean water. And I always brush my teeth right after I eat.

OLD ROT peeks over the edge of the stage at the audience: Clean water? Tooth brushing? Those are my worst enemies!

LOLLIPOP: Well, that's fine for you. But my family is very poor. We don't have money to buy a tooth brush and tooth paste.

SWEET TOOTH: Neither do we. You have to be rich to have white teeth.

SUGAR MOUTH (moaning and groaning): Oh! My poor mouth!

PEARL: You don't have to be rich to have nice teeth. My family can't afford to buy toothbrushes either. We clean our teeth with a piece of towel wrapped around a stick like this.

Stick - towel


(PEARL's puppeteer shows the tooth cleaning stick and demonstrates how to use it by "brushing" PEARL's teeth.)

OLD ROT: Take it away! That stick is dangerous! It will kill me!

PEARL: And instead of toothpaste, we dip the stick into a mixture of salt and baking soda. It works great!

OLD ROT: Salt and baking soda? That stuff will poison me!

SPARKLE: Our family doesn't have toothbrushes either. We use a stick like this. (Shows stick.)



We chew one end like this (chews end of stick) to make a brush, and sharpen the other end, like this (holds up pointed end) to clean between our teeth.

OLD ROT: I don't like what's going on here. That looks like a very dangerous instrument.

PEARL: Sparkle and I also go to the dentist at the RHU for a check-up every six months. You don't have to wait until your teeth hurt before you see a dentist. The dentist at the RHU is really nice.

OLD ROT: The dentist? Oh no! I hate dentists! Whoever heard of a nice dentist?

SPARKLE: C'mon, Sugar Mouth, we'll take you over to the RHU and introduce you to our friend, Dr. Brushem. He'll make your toothache so away.

OLD ROT: No! Sugar Mouth, don't go! (To the audience) If Sugar Mouth goes to see Dr. Brushem, that will be the end of me!

SWEET TOOTH: Can we go with you?

LOLLIPOP: Yeah, can we go too? I want to have nice teeth.

PEARL: Sure you can. But you have to stop eating so much candy and drinking so many cokes if you really want to have nice teeth.

SWEET TOOTH & LOLLIPOP: Oh, we will! We promise!


We share with each other

And learn a lot

Candy is dandy

Rot is not!

We've found a way

To fight tooth decay.

We all help each other

Stay healthy. Hurray!

The bag puppets leave the stage. Only OLD ROT is left.

OLD ROT (groaning and crying and staggering around the stage alone): They're killing me! They're killing me! (groan, sob) I'm dying! Aa-aagh! (He screams and falls backward out of sight).

The bag puppets all pop up again together and shout: HURRAY!

The End


Sample script


Featuring hand puppets, ANNA BANDANA

her husband, BEN

her daughter, BABY

and her neighbor, BONNIE

BONNIE introduces the show:

Good morning (good afternoon) to all of you. I'm Bonnie, a barangay health worker, and I'm very glad to see all of you here today. Are you glad to see me? (Waits for audience response.) Don't be shy - who's glad to see me? (Waits until she gets a response.) Okay. We're going to entertain you with a puppet show this morning (afternoon).

One of the puppeteers displays a showcard with the title of the puppet show:

The Provincial Puppeteers



A Mystery Story About Health

BONNIE: The title of our show is THE SPREADING SICKNESS. It's a mystery story and it stars my next door neighbor, Anna Bandana. (The show card is taken down and ANNA comes on stage and bows to the audience.)

...her husband, Ben 'BEN joins ANNA on stage and bows to the audience)

...and their daughter, Baby. (BABY comes on stage to stand by ANNA and BEN. She bows to the audience.)

I'm in the show, too. And so are you because I'm going to ask you to solve the mystery, okay? Now, let's get on with the show.

One of the puppeteers displays a second showcard:


Lunchtime in the kitchen

of Anna Bandana

The show opens with ANNA BANDANA bustling around her kitchen preparing the noon meal. There is a towel draped over the edge of the stage.


ANNA (talking to herself): My goodness, it's hot there by the fire. I hope the munggo will be cooked pretty soon. Ben is due home any minute for his lunch. (ANNA picks up the towel and wipes her face and hands, then puts the towel back. She moves to stage right and pretends to stir the beans. BEN enters from stage left.)

BEN: Wow! it's really hot in the field today. Not a breath of air anywhere. (He picks up the towel, wipes his face and hands, and puts the towel back.) What's for lunch?

ANNA (still at stage right): Munggo and rice. Sit down and rest. Lunch is just about ready. Did you get the fields fertilized? (ANNA mimes bringing BEN his lunch. BEN is rubbing his eyes with his hands.)

BEN: Not yet. We should be through by the end of the week. (Rubs his eyes again.) Where is Baby?

ANNA: She said she was going to stop by Ida's place on her way home from school. She should be home soon.

(BABY enters from stage left.)

Oh, look! Here she is now.

BABY (sniffling): Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad. What's for lunch? (sniffle, sniffle - BABY wipes her nose, then gets the towel and wipes her hands. She puts the towel back and joins her parents.) favorite! (sniffle, sniffle BABY wipes her nose again. BEN is rubbing his eyes.)

BEN: What's wrong with you, Baby? Sounds like you have a cold.

BABY (sniffling): Oh, it's just a runny nose. I feel okay. (Goes over to get the towel and wipes her face again.) You don't look so great yourself, Dad. Your eyes are all red.

BEN (rubbing his eyes): We've been fertilizing the fields all morning. I probably got some dust in my eyes (rubs his eyes again). Anna, how are the baby pigs doing?

ANNA: I've been so busy all morning I haven't had a chance to check up on them. I'll go see them right now. (ANNA leaves the stage.)

BEN (rubbing his eyes): You shouldn't have gone swimming in the river yesterday, Baby. You probably got chilled. That's why you have a cold.

BABY (sniffling): Oh, Daddy! It's no big deal. I'll be okay. (Sniffles again and wipes her nose with her hands.)

ANNA returns to the stage, picks up the towel and wipes her hands...

ANNA: The baby pigs won't let the runt suckle. I had to shove them over with my hands to make room for him to get something to eat, poor thing.

BEN: You'd better look at them every hour or so to make sure they're all right (rubs his eyes). Well, I've got to get back to the fields. There's a lot of work to do.

(BEN picks up the towel, wipes his face and hands, replaces the towel, and exits stage right.)

BABY (sniffling): And I have to get back to school. (Rubs her nose.) We're having a review for the big test tomorrow. (She picks up the towel, wipes her face and hands, puts the towel back, and then exits.)

ANNA: And I better get this kitchen cleaned up so that I can finish the ironing. (ANNA pretends to clean the table with the towel.) Tomorrow is the meeting of our Women's Club, and I'm in charge of all the arrangements for our fund-raising dance Friday night. (ANNA bustles around the kitchen putting things in order. She wipes her hands and face on the towel, puts it back, and then exits.)

BONNIE appears on stage again.

Don't go away, folks. It's not over yet.

A puppeteer displays the third showcard.


The next morning.


ANNA and BEN come on stage together. BEN is rubbing his eyes. ANNA picks up the towel and wipes her face and hands. Then she sniffles.

ANNA: Now I've got a runny nose, too. And my eyes burn. I must have caught Baby's cold. It must be the weather. (She sniffles again and rubs her eyes.)

BEN (also rubbing his eyes): My eyes hurt, too. (He picks up the towel and wipes his face.) I could hardly get them open this morning. It felt like my eyelids were glued shut. And I seem to be catching a cold, too. (He sniffles.)

BABY staggers onto the stage.

BABY (sniffling and fumbling for the towel): Where's the towel? Oh, here it is, (Picks up the towel and wipes her face.) I feel terrible. My cold is worse and when I woke up this morning, I couldn't open my eyes. There was a lot of sticky stuff on my eyelashes. Oh dear! how can I ever take my exam today? My eyes burn so much that I'll never be able to read the questions.

ANNA: Well, how about me? I have to go to an important meeting at the Women's Club (she pauses to sniffle and rub her eyes) and here I am with a runny nose and burning eyes!

BEN (rubbing his eyes and sniffling): You and Baby are no worse off than I am. My eyes have been all red and burning for two days, and now I've got a cold, too. At least you don't have to go out to the fields and spread fertilizer all around! (BEN rubs his eyes again and sniffles.)

ANNA: Oh dear! (sniffle, sniffle). What are we going to do? (She rubs her eyes.)

BABY (crying and sniffling and rubbing her eyes): Oh dear! Oh dear! Whatever are we going to oaf?

BEN: I just had an idea. Anna, why don't you call Bonnie next door? She's a barangay health worker. Maybe she has some medicine she can give us to make us feel better.

ANNA: Yes, that is a good idea. I'll go get her right now.

(ANNA sniffles, rubs her eyes, wipes her face on the towel, and goes off stage calling "Bonnie! Bonnie!")

BEN and BABY remain on stage, sniffling and rubbing their eyes. ANNA returns to the stage. BONNIE, the BHW, is with her.

BONNIE: Good morning, Ben. Good morning Baby. Anna tells me that none of you are feeling very well today. Let me take a look at you.

BONNIE goes up to each puppet and looks at them carefully. She puts her hand on BABY's cheek. ANNA, BEN, and BABY continue to sniffle and rub their eyes.

ANNA: Can you give us some medicine to make us well?

BONNIE: I don't have any medicine, Anna, but I'll ask my husband to get some eye ointment for you at the Botica sa Barangay. It's not very expensive. You all seem to have colds as well as something we call pink eye, or conjunctivitis. They are both very contagious.

ANNA: How could this happen?

BEN: Yes, how could this happen?

ANNA, BEN, and BABY sniffle and rub their eyes. BABY picks up the towel and wipes her tears.

BONNIE: How could this happen? Let's ask our audience. I bet they can solve the mystery for you. (Addresses the audience.) Well, folks, what do you think? Can you tell Anna and Ben and Baby why they all have colds? Can you tell them how they spread pink eye to one another? You there, yes, you in the front row, what have you observed?

BONNIE encourages the audience to share their observations and opinions with the BANDANA family. She summarizes their ideas and helps them explain to the puppets that the germs are spread by everybody using the same towel.

BONNIE asks the audience: What can be done to prevent things like this from happening in your family?

Again, she listens to their suggestions, summarizes their ideas, and encourages them to see that each family member should have his or her own towel, and these towels should be washed and dried in the sunshine frequently. Especially when someone is sick.

ANNA, BEN, and BABY can make comments in response to the audience's suggestions.

e.g. "Oh really?" "Do you do that?" "Hey, that's a good idea." etc.

BONNIE then repeats the audience's suggestions to the BANDANA family.

BONNIE: Now you know how to prevent this from happening again. My husband will bring you some eye ointment. Wash your hands well with soap and water, then put a little ointment inside the lower lid of each eye three times a day. Wash your hands again when you are through. And be sure to drink plenty of water and fruit juices to help get rid of your colds. You'll all be better soon.

ANNA: Thank you, Bonnie. And thank you to everybody in our audience. You've all helped us a lot. The mystery of the spreading sickness has been solved. From now on we're each going to have our own towel...

BABY: ...and our own drinking glass...

ANNA: Yes, and our own drinking glass, too.

BEN: It's nice to share things like food and information with our families and friends, but we shouldn't share our germs.

ANNA: No, we shouldn't. And we're not going to any more. Thanks again, everybody.

BEN & BABY: Thanks alot. Thank you and goodbye.

BONNIE: That's the end of our show, folks. Thanks for being a part of it. I'm sure the Bandana family has learned a good lesson that they won't forget. We hope that you learned something, too.

A puppeteer displays the final showcard:

...and that's the end of