Latin Puppet Shows!
There are few things funnier than a Latin puppet show. To hold a Latin puppet show, you need:
There are two versions of Latin puppet shows that I use in my classroom. The first is a case review activity that I use at the beginning of my Latin II class. The second is one I use with my "Introduction to Latin" course. this one is designed for younger students, sixth or seventh graders. I will describe the more advanced activity first.
In this activity, you partner students up. Groups of three will also work but the activity doesn't work as well with more than three students. Working together, the students write a puppet show that consists only of actions - no dialogue. There can be groans, cheers or cries but no dialogue: Here is the beginning of a sample show.
Ernestus intrat et per scaenam ambulat.
Crustulum Monstrum etiam intrat et Ernestum videt.
Crustum Monstrum clamat: OOO!
The basic requirements for the project are as follows: Each student is required to write 5 sentences of the show. That way if you have a pair, the show will be 10 sentences long and 15 sentences long for a group of three. Each sentence must have at least 3 Latin words. Each group is required to use all the cases at least once. Depending upon the skill of the class, sometimes I include other requirements such as adverbs, use of adjectives, third declension nouns etc. The project description is in the Google drive as well as a proofing sheet so students can proof their shows.
The writing of the show usually takes 2-3 forty minute class periods. The students must have a copy for each person in the group as well as an extra copy. On the day of the performance, the students go behind the "curtain" with their script. I read the script aloud except for the yelling, crying etc. that the puppets do and the students perform the show. Often, it's useful to cue the audience about what is happening. For example, I might say,
" 'Puella currit et celat' Hey, what's celat?"
This activity has always been a huge hit and I've used it every year that I've taught with middle and high school students. One year, a group created a film score for their puppet show and timed the action of the show to coincide with the various music they played. The class laughed so hard that an administrator, who had been observing the class next door, came in to see what was going on and stayed to watch.
In my introduction to Latin class, I use this activity to introduce to students the idea that Latin doesn't have articles or word order. I give students a short list of nouns and verbs and have them translate some simple sentences using these words. I then introduce the idea of someone doing the action and someone receiving the action. I ask them about how they know in English who is doing or receiving the action. In Latin, I tell them, the person or thing receiving the action has an "m" at the end of the word. I then give them some very simple sentences with direct objects and they translate those.
Finally, I call up students, two or three at a time and have them duck behind the curtain and act out short sentences that make up. I let them bring their vocabulary list with them and often I prompt them about the meaning of the words. Two other students hold up the curtain and we rotate until everyone has had a chance to try the activity. Sixth graders are absolutely enchanted with this activity. It's a little sad how eager they are to jump up and do anything as long as it involves getting out from behind the desk. Not all young students will grasp the idea of subject and direct objects but I don't beleaguer the point. There are always some that find the idea of a language without word order to be a very cool thing and it is those that I most often see the following year in Latin I.
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