Another strategy we focused on in the Reading Comprehension Strategies project is Inferring – really a word not in the typical kindergarten through second grader’s vocabulary, so I defined it as looking for clues for meaning in the text. To practice, I made a list of clues for people jobs, animals, even book characters such as:
He ran out of the cave when he saw a herd of little dinosaurs who would be a perfect dinner.
He was so hungry that he decided if the pig would not let him in the house, he would blow the house down.
Every morning she studied the sky and told people what they should wear when they went outside that day.
These also brought prior knowledge into the picture. The first one, for example, was guessed right away by kids who knew that tigers, etc. did not live at the same time as dinosaurs! I read the clues one by one, and whoever guessed a clue first (by hand raising, not shouting out!) was given the paper slip with that clue and that was their character to make. (If you would like this list as well as a diagram of the puppet design, feel free to email me)
Then each child was given a quarter of a recycled file folder on which to make a LARGE, PROFILE (some help needed with this – only one eye should show) drawing. I cut these out for the younger kids, older kids did it themselves. A wooden craft stick was taped to the back of the puppet, then, they colored their character. I cut out simple arms to be moving parts which they also colored. Additional materials were a hole punch, and a paper fastener, length of thin string, and piece of drinking straw for each child. A hole is punched through the “shoulder” of the puppet and through the shoulder joint of the arm. The arm is attached on the BACK of the puppet with the paper fastener – LEFT VERY LOOSE! The string is taped to the top of the arm, run through the straw (the kids can do this), and the straw is taped to the wooden stick. When the string is pulled, the arm moves. For best movement, make sure the string is taped to the top of the arm so that pulling the string downwards makes the arm move up. The kids loved these! Now, various games may be played with the puppets: The clues can be read aloud again with all listening to hold their puppet up for the correct clue. Or older children may read the clue aloud for the class to guess, then hold their puppet up from behind a simple stage.