Spontaneous Play and Talk

Oral Language Teaching Strategy
Extend and Check the Meaning Extend and Check the Meaning Expand on the language and detail in students’ communication to check the meaning.

Time: 20–25 minutes
– one puppet for each student
– a bag for the puppets
Grouping: whole class and partners
Assessment: Use selected items from the Kindergarten Oral Language Assessment Scale for recording your observations.


  • Place all the puppets in the bag. If you have more than 20 students in your class, you will need to add extra puppets to the bag.

  • We are going to play with puppets today. I am going to show you how to have a conversation with a puppet and how to talk and play with someone else’s puppet

    Introduce the lesson’s focus of using puppets for spontaneous play and talk.

Setting a Purpose

  • Establish a purpose by asking students to watch and listen and tell you how you played with the puppets.


I’ve got a fireman. I could make up a story about a fireman or I could just pretend to be the fireman and tell you about myself. I think I’ll tell you about myself. I’m Luke the fireman and I live in a small village…

  • Select a puppet from the bag. Think aloud about what you could use the puppet for, and use a special voice for your character.

  • Have students, one at a time, select a puppet from the bag. Invite them to use their puppets to tell a story or to tell people about themselves. They can practise on their own and then share their ideas with a partner.

Teaching Tip: Ask one or two students to share their puppet talks with the class. Choose students who are using special voices for their characters. You may want all the students to ‘talk like a bear’ or ‘talk like a princess.’

  • So you’re a sheep and live in a field. I’m wondering what you can see from your field? What do you do when the weather is cold? Can you tell me more, woolly sheep?

    Move around the class, observing and taking opportunities to expand language.

  • Kris can you bring your cat up here and we’ll make up a story together. Let’s pretend you are stuck up a tree. What would you say?

  • Model how to interact with another puppet. Select a student to be your partner, then start the story and construct a scenario where the fireman and the cat use dialogue to tell the story.

  • I loved the ending where the pirate decided to take the frog with him on his trip. Do you think the frog would want to know a bit more about where they were going? Can you play that part again and add a few more details?

    Pair the students and encourage them to make up a story that fits with their puppets. (Students can work in a group of three if numbers are uneven.)

  • Move around the classroom, observing, and taking opportunities to expand language.

  • You may ask a few students to share their plays with the class.


  • How did we play with the puppets? Yes, we made our puppets talk and tell about themselves. What else did we do?

    Revisit the purpose for watching and listening by asking the students how you played with puppets.

  • Yes, you could tell your puppet a secret, pretend you were going to space with your puppets, or make up a game where you have a zoo and zookeepers to take care of the animals. You could pretend you are going to the doctor or pretend you are a cowboy on a ranch and have adventures.

    Ask the students to use the puppets during centre times to talk about themselves (e.g., a pirate talking about his job, or a bear talking about life in the forest) or to make up a story. Ask students if there’s anything else they could do with the puppets.

  • Suggest that the students could play by themselves, with a partner, or in a small group, with each student having one or two puppets. Point out the props box where you have included a variety of small items that could be used to support puppet play.

Teaching Tip: Look at the suggestions for creating a props box and a puppet theatre. (See the Instructional Tips for using puppets in the Introduction and Assessment section.)