Philanthropic Puppets on Parade

3, 4, 5

In this culminating lesson, the students perform their puppet plays in order to teach others about environmental issues. As a final piece, students reflect on this project by writing an answer to some essential questions of the unit: What does it mean to be a philanthropist? What does it mean to be an environmentalist?

Lesson Rating 
PrintFour Sixty-Minute Class Periods
The learner will:
  • perform a puppet play for other students and adults/parents.
  • use a puppet to communicate his/her ideas.
  • teach others about various environmental problems and solutions.
  • participate in a showcase of his/her talents and creations.
  • reflect on the essential questions of the unit and write a piece on being an environmental philanthropist.
Teacher Note: Prior to this lesson, send out invitations for the performance to families, community members and other classrooms. You may wish to have several performances in order to keep the audiences small. They will be able to see the puppet details better.If possible, invite a puppeteer from the community to visit the class to discuss and demonstrate techniques. An inexpensive full-length mirror for students to use when practicing moving their puppets is helpful.
  • The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
  • Chart paper and markers
  • Puppet stage
  • Large auditorium or gym that has loud speaker capabilities
  • Tape player
  • Cassettes from recordings of puppet plays (Lesson Two: A-Scripting We Will Go)
  • Puppets (Lesson Three: Garbage—A Puppet’s Paradise)
  • Hard copy of scripts (Lesson Two) as a backup
Home Connection 
Students should write thank-you notes to all parent volunteers or community members that helped.

Stewart, Sarah. The Gardener. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997. ISBN: 0374325170


  1. Anticipatory Set: Read the story, The Gardener, by Sarah Stewart. After the reading discuss the following questions: Is Lydia Grace an environmentalist? Is she a philanthropist? Can you be both? Can you be one but not the other? How did Lydia Grace use her talent for the common good?

  2. Make a chart with the class on the three main book characters from this unit across the top: Marcy from City Green, Walter from Just a Dream and Lydia Grace from The Gardener. For row 1 of the chart: How a Philanthropist. For row 2: How an environmentalist. Set up the chart before the lesson and have the students work together to fill it in.
  3. Tell the students that your class is going to share their time and talents with others in order to raise awareness of taking care of the environment. Their puppet plays will motivate others in the style of Lydia Grace, Walter and Marcy. Discuss how their plays can be an act for the common good.
  4. Teach the students some puppet techniques such as holding their puppets upright and facing the audience. Show the students how to walk puppets on and off the puppet stage rather than simply appearing from the bottom. Demonstrate some methods for portraying feelings and various expressions. If your puppet stage has curtains or lights, teach students how to use these. If you have invited a puppeteer, these things can be demonstrated by your guest.
  5. Days Two and Three:

  6. Over the next couple days, groups take turns working with the puppets and stage to practice their plays using the tips and techniques learned. It may be helpful to have a volunteer there to give feedback.
  7. The day before the performance, student groups perform a "dress rehearsal" for each other. Make sure you are ready for the performance with the sound system and seating for the audience.
  8. Day Four:

  9. Perform the puppet plays for the audience(s).
  10. After the performances, post the following questions on the board and give students time to reflect and answer them in an essay form:
      1. Are you an environmentalist? If so, how? Why?
      2. Is an environmentalist always a philanthropist? How?
  11. What changes can you make in your own life to help your environment?
Cross Curriculum 
The students will perform their puppet plays for other classrooms, parents and community members in order to raise awareness about environmental issues and motivate others to act.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.9 Describe how philanthropic activities can bring about social change.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.
      3. Benchmark E.3 Describe the task and the student role.