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Physical activity required.

Adult supervision recommended.


Lesson video

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Hello, it's Adam here from Oak Academy and we are going to be continuing our work today on the story of the "Drums of Noto Hanto" but this time through puppets we are going to make a puppet.

We're going to learn how to work with it and bring it to life so we can discover its story.

You are going to need a few things for today's lesson.

You will need at least five sheets of A-four paper.

These can be any colour or mix of colours that you have to hand, and you will need some sticky tape to join them all together.

So pause the video, go and get those things and then press play when you're ready to carry on.

Here's some key words for today's lesson.

An actor like me is someone who pretends to be someone else as part of telling a story.

It's great fun to be an actor.

And you would have seen them in your favourite TV programmes films or in plays if you've ever been to the theatre.

And you've already had a go at doing some acting in our previous lessons.

A character is the people or the creatures who are in our stories, who are often played by actors.

And finally, a puppet.

A puppet is also a type of character in our stories but it isn't a person.

It might look like a person, but it might also look like a monster or some kind of animal.

And they're usually controlled by actors who are often hidden from you so you can't see them.

A puppet is what we're going to be making today.

When we watch a play or a film, we believe the characters we see in front of us.

Think of all the cartoons and films you watch where animals talk and people fly.

But we know that they can't really do that but we believe that they can.

And that helps us to enjoy that play or that programme.

In films and TV, they might use puppets, but then they would use computers to make those characters look more real.

And that's called animation.

On stage, we just use puppets and we see the actors controlling them but we still believe the characters the puppets are playing and we believe that they are real.

Some puppets are controlled by strings attached to their joints with the other end attached to a frame which a puppeteer controls.

These are called marionettes and have been used for hundreds of years.

Others like this one have hands which are usually the actor's hands and are controlled by one or sometimes two actors at the same time.

In Asia there was a tradition of using shadow puppets.

These are usually 2D or flat shapes, which are placed against a screen with a light shining from behind.

There are even some puppets so big that they are life size animals or people.

This is a puppet from a play called War Horse, where they have life sized horses which a person can actually ride on top of.

Here you can see two actors underneath the horse and one controlling the head and a fourth one on top of it.

Before we start making a puppet, I want you to pretend to be a puppet.

To do this, you'll need to stand up and make sure you have a clear space around you so that you don't bump into any furniture.

Pause the video if you need to do that now and then press play when you're ready to carry on.

Okay, so I want you to stand tall with your hands by your side and imagine there's a piece of string pulling you up from the top of the head.

Now imagine that there are strings attached to your wrists, elbows, knees, feet, hips and head.

Now imagine somebody is holding the other end of those strings and they're going to lift those strings attached to both of your elbows.

Look what happened.

Now imagine that your body is swaying as if it isn't held tightly.

So like a marionette puppet, you're swinging around a bit.

Maybe your hands flip about a bit before they settle.

Okay, now they'll lift you right hand and they wave it about.

So it's flopping.

It's not going to be smooth movements but the body is still flopping.

Now they drop their hands and the elbows, and they lift our right knee.

And our body's still a bit floppy but they're swinging us forward and places it down.

But then they lift our left knee and they make us walk forward.

All the time our bodies are quite floppy and are still strings attached to all of our different joints.

Then they're flopped down to the ground and back up again, like this.

How does that feel to have someone control you like that? It's a bit funny, isn't it? What I want you to do now is I want you to have it a bit of a play, being a marionette puppet, just for a couple of minutes as if someone else is controlling all of your different joints.

So pause the video have a bit of a play, wave around as if someone else moves moving your joints and then join the lesson again.

The puppet we're going to make today looks very simple and it's made with paper and tape, but it is from an ancient Japanese puppet tradition called Bunraku.

These puppets are usually made much bigger than this and take three people to move them.

But we're going to make it a much smaller one today.

I'm going to make the puppet with you and then we're going to have a go at playing with the puppets.

As we learn to help them breathe, to move and to explore their surroundings.

I actually learned how to make this puppet from the people who made the life-sized horse puppet for War Horse.

So here is how are we going to make our puppet.

First of all, you need to get your five sheets of paper and you going to make two strips, one using three pieces of paper and one using two pieces of paper.

We're going to do that by using some sticky tape to join those pieces of paper together, like so.

Don't worry about it being absolutely neat and tidy because it really won't matter and you'll understand why in just a moment.

We're going to stick our pieces of paper together, curling under the edges, the ends of the paper as we go until we have our two long strips.

Pause the video if you need a bit of time to do that, then press play when you're ready to carry on.

Once we're here, we then need to make two scrunched up pieces.

This is the fun part.

We're going to scrunch up our paper along the length of our strips just like so, it's a little bit noisy so if you can hear lots of crackling, I do apologise.

This is why it doesn't matter too much whether you don't get those joins absolutely precise because you're going to scrunch it up anyway.

So it really doesn't matter.

Now, the tighter you can make your two strips, the stronger your puppet is going to be.

So I'm just going to squeeze it really, really tightly.

Again, if you need to pause at any point whilst we're making our puppets, please do so but I'm going to do it as quickly as I can to save some time.

We then have our two strips, one on three pieces of paper, one on two pieces of paper.

I'm going to take the long piece first.

I want you to find the middle and that is going to be the top of our body.

So we're going to bring the ends together.

So that they're about the same length.

And this is going to form the top of our body here.

So we want to find just above halfway and that is going to be our waist.

You can give it a bit of a twist there and we're going to use some tape to join that bit together.

And that is going to form the waist or the hips of our puppet.

Just like so.

So we have a body and our legs and then this piece is going to form the head of our puppet.

You can give it a little head, like this.

And these are going to be the arms of our puppet.

And now we just need to use some tape to join those two pieces together.

Like so.

There we go.

Doesn't much look like a person just yet.

Now we've got slightly complicate bit.

We have to join these two pieces together.

So don't worry about how much tape you use, use plenty and join the body and the head of our puppet together.

Like so.

We then have our head, we have our two arms, the body and the legs.

Now there's something missing.

When we were being the marionette earlier, we had strings attached to our joints, didn't we? So we need to give our puppet some elbows around the middle of the arms and we need to give it some wrists Like so.

This is why we need to scrunch up our paper nice and tight.

We also need to have knees.

Remember knees are only bent in one direction.

So make sure you do bend your legs in the right way.

And we need some feet at the bottom, just like so.

So here we have our puppet with its knees and its elbows, wrists and feet.

And that is our basic Bunraku puppet.

Before we carry on, I just want to quickly recap how we're making our puppets.

You're taking those sheets of paper, five sheets and forming two strips.

The first strip is formed two sheets of paper.

The second strip is form the three sheets of paper using sticky tape.

Once you've made those two strips you're going to scrunch them all up along the length of those strips.

And then you're going to use them to form the puppet.

The longest strip forms the body and the legs, and the second strip forms the head and the arms. And you're going to join all of those two pieces together using sticky tape and you're also using sticky tape to form the hips of our puppets.

And finally, you're going to fold the hands, the feet, the elbows and the knees to give it to the main working joints.

Here is our paper Bunraku puppet.

It's not bad, is it? How's yours looking? Now at the moment, this is just a piece of paper and tape, scrunched up and formed into this vague shape of a human being.

How do we make this come to life, into a character that we can believe in as part of a story? What do you think? How do we know if something is alive? Any ideas? Just giving you a bit of a clue.

They breathe.

So the first thing we need to do, is give our puppet breath.

So if you open up the body a little bit and squash it down and then just move it in time with your own breathing.

So if I breathe in, he can can breathe with me.

Do you see how that works? So one of the first things that you need to learn how to do is to learn how to make your puppet breathe.

The best way to do that is for you to focus on your puppet and as you breathe, it breathes.

Pause your video and have a play, learning how to make your puppet breathe in time with your own breath, and explore what happens when you breathe at a different pattern.

Pause your video, we're going to have a play breathing.


Now, the second thing that you need to learn how to do, is learn how to make your puppet focus and see things around it.

So here you need to move its body.

You need to move its head.

As humans, we think with our head first so our head might move as our eyes move to focus on something and then we might move towards it.

Does that make sense? So controlling your puppet, first just explore what your puppet's looking at and have a look at it as well.

Pause your video and have a play at focusing your puppet.

Welcome back, how was he doing? Is your puppet breathing and focusing? Excellent.

Now with the life-size Bunraku puppets, I said it would take three people to control them.

What would happen would be, one person would control both the feet.

Somebody else would control the hips and one arm and somebody else would control the head and one arm.

So three people would work together to control their puppet.

Alternatively, if you made really big ones you might have sticks tied to the wrists or to the elbows and to the knees and to the body so that you can control it from the ground and make it 20, 30 feet high.

Puppets come in all different shapes and sizes and it's quite incredible.

It wouldn't take as much time looking on the internet to find huge puppets being controlled by big sticks and machinery behind it to hold it upright.

But we've made this small one so that we can just about do it by ourselves.

So you might take a little bit of getting used to, but you can control the body, you can give it a wave, you can explore it moving one step at a time.

You might even, if you using a table, you might be able to sit your puppet down, bending his knees, sitting down.

So what I want you to do is have a good play with your puppet.

Learn how to make it move, learn how to manipulate all of the different joints.

And then you can start to give your your puppet a bit of a character.

Think about whether it's an old puppet or whether it's a young child puppet.

Does it have a bad back? Does it need to support itself when it sits down? Does it breathe easily? Does it move quite easily? You have a play with it and just explore and get used to playing with your puppet.

Then we're going to have a look at putting it into our story of Noto Hanto.

Have fun.

Play with your puppet, pause your video and come back when you're ready.

So now our puppet is living, it's breathing, it's exploring the world around it.

We're starting to get more control over our puppet as we learn how to move it.

Now, this makes you the puppeteer.

You are in control of your puppets so you need to make sure you look after it.

But have a play with it and get used to it.

Now, I want you to think about our story of Noto Hanto.

The villages would have made puppets possibly just like this, but maybe instead of using paper they might've used bamboo cane and covered it in fabric.

They might've made giant ones that look 20 feet high so that they could scare the invading Samurai with these giant puppets coming out from the woods which combined with the fire lights and the booming drum sounds taking a big boom every time that the puppet took a step.

Boom, boom, could've looked quite intimidating.

They could have also made some human sized puppets and placed them along the beaches or along the tree line to make it look like there were more people ready to fight than they were actually there, who knows? What I want you to do is pretend that you're one of the villages and you have made a giant 20 foot tall puppet made a bamboo and cloth.

And you're going to imagine that there are sticks, your hands are sticks attached to it's different joints and you're going to move it through the woods coming out onto the beach, looking scary and monstrous.

Perhaps you might want to paint your puppet, cover in bits of cloth to make it look a bit more intimidating.

Have a play with your puppet.

Think of our story of the villages from Noto Hanto and the drum sounds and the puppets and the look that they wanted to create to scare off those Samurai warriors to make sure that they didn't invade their village.

Pause the video, have a play and then come back when you're ready to carry on.

It looks like you guys are doing some amazing work, well done and I hope you enjoying playing with your puppets.

Before we finish, I've got a bit of a quiz for you.

I've got on the screen, a few different types of puppets that we talked about earlier.

But I think I've got them a little bit meddled up.

Can you help me sort them out? Great.

So can you identify which of the pictures are the string puppets, the shadow puppets and the glove puppets.

Pause the video if you need to whilst you work it out, but let's see if we can work it out together.

I think the string puppets are these ones.

These are the ones we saw earlier.

They're called marionettes.

The shadow puppets, they're the ones where you put a 2D flat shape against a screen and you project a light through it and then you can see from the other side of the screen the shadow that it creates.

I think that black and white image is the shadow puppet, did you get that one right? Which by a process of elimination means that these are the glove puppets.

Well done if you got all of those correct.

As before it would be great if we could see some of your photos or videos of all of your hard work playing with your puppets today.

So if you want to share it, please ask a grownup to help you share it on Twitter where you can use the tag @OakNational or the #learnwithOak.

Thank you for your time and I'll see you soon for another lesson.