Tongue Twisters and Puppet Conception

Lesson 3: Tongue Twisters and Puppet Conception

Length: 70 min.

Objective:Students will demonstrate an ability to use diction through a tongue-twister competition. They will also demonstrate their ability to imagine and create characters through the design of a puppet.

Levels of Understanding:

Explain, Apply, Empathize, Self-knowledge, perspective

National Standards:

TH:Cr.1.1.7.b. Explain and present solutions to design challenges in a drama/ theatre work.

TH:Pr5.1.7.a. Participate in a variety of acting exercises and techniques that can be applied in a rehearsal or drama/theatre performance.

TH:Cr.1.1.7.c. Envision and describe a scripted or improvised character’s inner thoughts and objectives in a drama/theatre work.

Materials Needed:

Puppet design worksheets, printed on yellow paper.

Coloring utensils


Have the students stand up. Lead them through an exercise in which they hang their bodies down, rolling their spine up as though they had a string on the top of their heads. Have them roll their shoulders and loosen their necks. Have them shake their bodies out and manipulate their faces, warming and stretching them out.

Lead them in a few projected ”ha’s” and the tongue twister, “Me and my mommy may move to Miami, and me and my mommy may not.”

Step 1:

Give the students the Tongue Twister exercise forms to pass off. They must be signed off by their peers, but they can have one peer sign off multiple exercises.

Step 2:

Gather the students for a tongue twister battle. Have the class divide into several groups. Each group will determine one tongue twister to practice. The group will then say that tongue twister as clearly as they can. Speed does not matter for this round. When one person slips up, the group changes tongue twisters and repeats until there is only one student left.

Step 3:

Have the winners of each group come up for the final round. The class will choose one tongue twister for the final contestants to battle. One student, possibly a TA, will stand in as an epic judge. The epic judge will lead the class in a “3-2-1 Battle!” countdown. Following the countdown, the final contestants will begin to say the determined twister as fast as they can as many times as they can. If they cannot keep up with the pace of the other contestants, the epic judge taps them. If they cannot be understood, the epic judge taps them. If they do not say the tongue twister correctly, the epic judge taps them.

Once a student is tapped, they must fall to the floor, as though they had died. They are out. They class cheers on the winner.

Step 3:

The tongue twisters are fun, but why do the students think we are practicing them? The answer is diction. After asking this question, ask the students why diction is important for actors. Review the other main term learned two class periods ago, projection. Why is projection important for actors?

Step 4:

As the students create their puppet shows, they must have clear diction and projection to be understood. Model for the students what a bad puppet performance is like—one without diction and projection. Does it remind the students of the pop quiz taken at the beginning of the unit? How fun was that pop quiz? How enjoyable would an hour-long puppet show be if you couldn’t understand the characters? Their puppet shows will not be an hour, but 2-3 minutes, and they will not be misunderstood, because our performers are better than that!

Step 5:

Have the students pull out their vocal characteristic sheets. These other vocal characteristics, learned about last time, will also help the students in their performance, as these characteristics will help create character. Ask the students what a character is and how voice in general determines/reveals character. Then ask them to get with a partner and find a way that a specific vocal characteristic can determine/reveal character. Each partnership will share.

Step 6:

Next time the students will begin to build their puppets. Some material will be provided, but students will be responsible for bringing their own puppet bodies to class.

Show some examples of past student puppets or teacher-created puppets. Have some students come up and animate the puppets, encouraging them to create vocal choices. How do they apply the attributes discussed last class? How do they decide what choices to make?

Give out the Puppet Character Design worksheets—their golden tickets. Have the students begin to design their puppets. They must draw their puppet in full color. As they design their puppets, they should think about how they want theirs to sound. Some questions on the handout ask for background, others ask for physical looks. These two things: background and appearance, help shape how an audience might imagine a character’s voice, in marriage of sight and sound.

Step 7:

Allow the students time to design. They will pass off these golden tickets with a teacher signature before building their puppet. As they get their tickets passed off, they will demonstrate how they imagine their puppet sounding.

Step 8:

Five minutes before class ends, have the students get out a piece of paper. If they would like to be in a group with any other student(s), they may submit a request. Requests will be considered, not guaranteed. Groups will be 2-4 people.