Nursery Rhymes and Puppets

by Ashlyn Anderson

Nursery Rhymes and Puppets

By Ashlyn Anderson






30 minutes




2014 National Theatre Arts Standards

  • TH:Cr1.1.2.c. Identify ways in which voice and sounds may be used to create or retell a story in guided drama experiences.
  • TH:Cr3.1.2.a. Contribute to the adaptation of dialogue in a guided drama experience.
  • TH:Pr6.1.2.a. Contribute to group guided drama experiences and informally share with peers.


2nd Grade Content Core

  • Students will develop a sense of self.
    • Develop and use skills to communicate ideas, information, and feelings.
      • Express personal experiences and imagination through dance, storytelling, music, and visual art.
      • Develop consistency in rhythmic accuracy of body percussion and instrument playing.


English Language Arts Grade 2

  • RL 7: Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
  • RF 4: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
    • Read grade-level text orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression.
  • SL 5: Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.



Students will demonstrate their ability to use voice and sound to retell a story by adapting a nursery rhyme to create a small group puppetry performance.


Big Ideas:

  • Collaboration
  • Teamwork
  • Voice and sound


Essential Questions:

  • What happens when theatre artists use their learned theatre skills while engaging in creative exploration?
  • What can I do to fully prepare a performance?
  • What happens when theatre artists and audiences share a creative experience?


Enduring Understandings:

  • Theatre artists work to discover different ways of communicating meaning.
  • Theatre artists share and present stories, ideas, and envisioned worlds to explore the human experience.


Prior Experience:

Students may have previous experience participating in whole class drama activities, but it is not necessary. They should know how to collaborate in small groups.


Materials Needed:

  • Nursery rhyme copies (available at
    • Hey Diddle Diddle
    • Hickory Dickory Dock
    • Humpty Dumpty
    • The Itsy Bitsy Spider
    • Mary Mary Quite Contrary
    • One Two Buckle My Shoe
    • Peas Porridge Hot
    • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • Various stick puppets
    • birds
    • horses
    • people
    • dogs
    • cows
    • cats
    • bugs
    • mice
    • sheep
  • Various musical instruments
    • drums
    • rattles
    • slide whistles
    • bells
    • kazoos
    • sand blocks
    • rhythm sticks
    • ratchets
  • 5-7 medium-sized cardboard boxes to hold instruments, rhymes, and puppets


Lesson Plan:


Play the warm-up game ‘People, Shelter, Storm’ (found at Two students form shelters by linking their arms in a tent shape above a third player’s head, who crouches down in the middle. If the instructor calls, “People!” then all of the players acting as people in the shelters must rotate places while the players forming shelters stand still. Likewise, if the instructor calls, “Shelters!” then all of the players acting as shelters must rotate and form new shelters above the players acting like people, who remain still in their crouching positions. Whenever the instructor calls, “Storm!” then all players move and form new groups of three.


Encourage the children to work together as a “team” to be most successful at the game. Use a teacher if needed to divide the class into even groups of three.


Step 1:

Explain that we will be putting on puppet shows today. Again, it’s important for the students to “work as a team” in order to put on the best performance. Some students will be musicians, some will be puppeteers, but every job is important to the show.

The script for the puppet shows are the nursery rhymes assigned to each group. They need to recite the nursery rhyme all together, but it’s OK if they decide to perform some lines as solos or duets. Students should use the puppets and musical instruments as part of their performance; every student should have a role in the performance. They need to think creatively and work together to put on the best show.


Step 2:

Ask for the students who want to be musicians to please stand, divide them into 5-7 groups and assign a nursery rhyme to each. Then assign the remaining students to be puppeteers in their groups. Give every group copies of their nursery rhyme and a box of musical instruments and puppets. Groups have roughly ten minutes to prepare their performance before they share it with the class. Circulate between groups and provide help as necessary. Help the students think of certain moments or lines in the piece where they will do a specific action with their puppets or make a sound using their musical instruments.


Step 3:

Gather the class together again when there are 5-10 minutes remaining. Have each group perform their nursery rhyme puppet show for the rest of the class.


Step 4:

Lead a talkback with the student performers. What did they think worked well in their performances? What would they do differently next time?


Extra Activity (if needed):

Students may color the nursery rhyme worksheets.


Assessment: Students can be assessed on their collaborative nursery rhyme performance using voice (projection, diction), puppetry (movement, characterization), and sounds (musical instruments) as criteria.


Author’s Note:

Alternatively, this lesson plan can be adapted to continue over the course of multiple days. Students can rehearse one day and perform the next, especially if memorization of the nursery rhymes is encouraged. Another adaptation of this lesson is to use voice-recording software to record the students reciting their nursery rhymes. This audio file can play as students use the puppets and musical instruments during their performance so that students need not worry about memorizing or reciting their lines live.


Nursery Rhyme Puppets Lesson.Ashlyn Anderson


color-hickory-dickory-dock coloring-itsy-bitsy-spider coloring-mary-mary-quite-contrary coloring-one-two-buckle-my-shoe coloring-peas-porridge-hot coloring-twinkle-twinkle-little-star color-picture-humpty-dumpty nursery-rhyme-hey-diddle-diddle