Some 16 Barbadian teachers should be introducing fun and creative teaching tools to their classrooms for the new school year, having completed a puppetry workshop, hosted by the Audio Visual Aids Department of the Ministry of Education. 

The one-week workshop, held last month, included topics such as Theme and Character Development, Design and Construction of Glove Puppets, Creating the Puppet Play Script, Manipulation Techniques, and Making a Simple Puppet Stage Set Performance. The areas of acting and song writing were also explored. 

Audio Visual Aids Officer and Workshop Facilitator, Arlette St. Hill, said that basic story-line examples were provided in order to help them develop their scripts.  She also explained that two main productions were created.  One production, entitled, “Spark of Hope”, teaches children between the ages of seven and nine, the importance of protecting the environment.  The other story, “Choices”, concentrates on HIV/AIDS.  That story-line was designed to motivate young adults over 14 years old to make wise choices regarding relationships and to wait until they were mature enough to handle a sexual relationship.

Ms. St. Hill said that the group of students were highly skilled and worked well together. “If one person was weak in a particular area, another person would help them with the challenges… They also shared and exchanged ideas…

I hope that as soon as they go back to their schools and communities, they will use puppetry to enhance their teaching and to communicate messages in general,” she said. 

The lone male participant, Dwane Francis, who was encouraged by his primary school principal Merlene Padmore to join the class, said he was eager to implement puppetry in his classroom.  He created the character, ‘Prince Pierre’, an HIV positive puppet. 

Head of the Spanish Department at George Hicks Campus in the Cayman Islands, Janet Dash-Harris, said: “I always wanted to learn puppetry, so when I saw the workshop advertised; I jumped at the chance to register.”  She created ‘Joe’, an old man, in the production “Spark of Hope”. 

She said: “The production focuses on the problem of littering, especially with regard to plastic… It concludes with a young boy, ‘Spark’, making good use of plastic and showing the rest of the villagers that discarded plastic can be collected and turned into a money-making venture… Not only is the production enjoyable, it is a fun way to get across messages about issues affecting the community.”

The Spanish teacher said she planned to encourage her students to use puppetry in their role-playing activities. 

Puppet performances were recorded, and teachers who want to show the productions in their schools, may borrow the videos from the Audio Visual Aids Department, at Government Hill, St. Michael.

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