Cover Image
close this book Audio-Visual Communication Handbook
close this folder Presentation methods and materials
View the document Demonstrations
View the document Field trips
View the document Presentation boards
View the document Other presentation media
View the document Three-dimensional materials
View the document Projected materials
View the document Recording

Three-dimensional materials

Two categories of media, primarily three-dimensional are puppets and models.


Children and adults alike are fascinated by puppets who wear local clothing and speak the vernacular of the audience. The puppet actor, being something less than human yet something more than inanimate, has great freedom to question traditional beliefs. Puppets can range from simple stick figures to complex marionettes, which will not be discussed here as they require considerable skill to make and to use.

Stick puppets are drawn on cardboard by using a simple drawing style and bright colors to attract attention. These are then cut out and mounted on a stick with glue, tape or staples. Hand puppets are more dynamic and can also be readily made. One method is described below:

1. Cut a strip of newspaper or a piece of cardboard. Wrap around two fingers, and tape or tie securely.


2. Crumple newspaper, wrap around fingers. Secure with several rounds of string.

Crumple newspaper

3. Mix wheat or cassava paste with water or use any other starch. Cut paper towels or newspaper in 1" strips, soak in paste, apply to newspaper "head". Add 3 to 4 layers, alternating strips horizontally and vertically to ensure added strength.

Add layers

4. Add bits of paper to mold the nose and ears.

Add bits of paper

5. When very dry, paint with poster paint or tempera.


6. Glue yarn, string or real hair, or fibers from palm tree trunk to the puppet's head.


7. Place your own hand on paper and trace a pattern. Place pattern on cloth and cut double thickness. Sew the two pieces together. Turn inside out( seams on inside). Hands are optional for a puppet.

Trace a pattern

8. Glue the cloth to the newsprint neck of the puppet. Hold cloth firmly to the neck until the glue has set.


An even simpler puppet costume can be made by cutting a finger hole in the center of a piece of cloth the size of a large handkerchief. In use, the cloth drapes over the hand.

A satisfactory puppet stage can be made by tipping a small table on its side or by covering the lower half of a doorway with cloth and using the top half as a stage. A good stage, useful in many different situations, can be made with a cardboard carton, a clothes hanger, and a piece of cloth.

1. Cut the carton in half, diagonally. Cut a hole for the stage in one end. Paint this with tempera or poster paint.

2. Attach a lightweight wood or cardboard support to the top of the stage.

3. Bend a wire clothes hanger to make a curtain rod. Staple, tape or tie the ends to the support.

4. Pin or sew a piece of plain dark cloth (preferably material that is thin or loosely woven, enabling the puppeteer to see through it) to the curtain rod.


Consider the following points when making and using puppets:

- Make puppets that are appropriate to your audience. Keep the figures simple so that the characters are readily recognized. Dress them in local costumes and give them familiar names. Check appropriateness of names and dress with co-workers to avoid embarrassing or insulting any member of the audience.

- Keep puppet stories short and to the point. Complex stories often tail to communicate intended message.

- Combine puppets and tape recordings. By playing a recording in conjunction with a puppet show, many interesting effects can be added. Musical backgrounds or sound effects can accompany the show: a speech by a well-known personage can be recorded and acted out later; or, an entire script involving several different voices can be recorded and later played back while the puppeteer manipulates the characters.

- Involve the audience in spontaneous performances. Have the puppets ask questions and develop a discussion between the puppets and members of the audience. In Bolivia, extension workers found it effective to have a puppet strike up a conversation with a leading farmer in the audience and ask him questions about good farming practices. Other farmers learned by listening to the exchange. Such conversations should not be worked out in detail in advance, and the puppeteer must be alert to fruitful areas of conversation as the show progresses.


- Practice puppet movements. Puppets can be a very versatile medium. With a little practice on the part of the puppeteer, the puppets can be made to appear to be talking, walking, or even playing the piano. A few minutes spent rehearsing movements in front of a mirror adds realism to a performance.

Suggested Applications

To promote discussion about village problems and to suggest solutions to those problems.

To dramatize the importance of eating balanced meals, eating fish and other protein-rich foods, of using the right kind of seed, etc. Using contrasting characters, "Mr. Strong and Mr. Weak" or "Mr. Good Farmer and Mr. Bad Farmer," is an effective way to communicate such information.

To explain in a dramatic form the functions of a health center or a cooperative marketing organization.

To provide practice for children by having them act out simple plays.

Evaluation Questions

Was the show carefully planned and scripted so that the message was readily understood ?

Did the puppets attract and hold the attention of the audience? If not, perhaps a different medium should have been used.

Were the individual puppet characters readily identified visually as well as by the sounds of their voices?

Was the puppet play appropriate to the level of the audience? Did the puppet play help to meet objectives?


Models, as used in this manual, are defined as representations of real objects. They can shrink or enlarge an object, or represent it in its true size. For example, the earth can be shrunk to the size of a basketball, or a mosquito can be enlarged to the size of a sea gull. A model of a six-month-old baby might be its real size. Some models have removable parts - the human body, for example. Models are particularly useful in teaching because they can provide tactile experiences, and those with removable parts provide manipulative experiences as well.


Many simple models can be made by teachers and extension workers. They can be constructed from wood, metal, paper, cardboard, paper maché, clay, plaster of Paris, and many other materials. Terrain models showing crop distribution, flood control systems or contour plowing always draw crowds at an agricultural show. Suggestions for making terrain models are given in Appendix 4.


When making and using models keep the following ideas in mind:

- Models must be factually correct. It may be practical to make an exact replica of an object. Avoid models that give false impressions.

- The audience must be able to understand the scale of a model. A child looking at a model of a mosquito should not think that mosquitoes grow as large as birds.

- Construction should be sturdy and simple. This will facilitate handling and storage.

- Store carefully. Store in cardboard boxes or plastic bags in a clean, dry place.

- Involve the audience. Model making can be fun for nearly everyone. One secondary art teacher had her children make models of foods. These were displayed in food groups on classroom display boards. The best models were used at the local health clinic in a nutrition display.

Suggested Applications

To demonstrate soil conservation as shown in the illustration. Thick, grassy sod is placed on the left; bare soil on the right. A light stream of water trickles down across each plot. This soon erodes the soil, but leaves the grass unscathed. On a larger scale, two model farms could be set up, one showing good water control processes; the other, poor processes.


To show construction techniques, models can be made of chicken houses, fence or latrines.

To make working models of machines ranging from a simple pulley to a complex automobile differential, an Erector or Meccano set can be used.

To teach basic science or mathematics principles, many different kinds of models can be used such as:

- Wire and paper maché spheres can be used to make a model solar system. Watch the scale used to avoid false impressions.

- An abacus made from wire and pieces of wood or bottle caps with holes drilled in them.


- Polyhedrons made of heavy paper or card.


- Models of triangles, squares, hexagons, etc. These can easily be made of sticks, heavy wire, cardboard or other materials.


- A skeleton of string and bamboo can be made by children. Be sure the child is aware of the differences between his model and the real thing.

- Clocks can be made of cardboard or thin plywood.

- Using salvaged electrical parts, a variety of circuits can be set up on plywood bases to demonstrate electrical principles.

To teach the social studies:

Globes can be made by children from a calabash or other round gourds. Oceans, land masses, major rivers, and other features can be painted on the gourd to create a fine substitute for a commercial globe. More important, the child learns about geographical features on the earth in the process of making the globe.

Children can make a model of their own village in a sandbox. Houses can be made of heavy paper, and bits of plants and twigs can add realism. Similarly models can be made of other kinds of buildings - Eskimo igloos, Indian teepees, stilt houses. Also, a model of their village can be constructed in a sheltered area of the compound. It can be a learning experience for the entire school and a rewarding activity for the class constructing it.


Evaluation Questions

Was a model needed or could the real thing have been used?

Was making the model worth the time and expense?

Could a simpler visual material such as a chart or a photograph have communicated as well?

Did the model create any wrong impressions as to size or scale?

Could the audience see important details?