Puppets and engagement in science: a case study

  • Brenda Keogh Millgate House Education
  • Stuart Naylor Millgate House Education
  • Jane Maloney Institute of Education, University of London
  • Shirley Simon Institute of Education, University of London


The PUPPETS Project set out to determine whether the use of hand-held puppets would help teachers change the nature of their whole class discourse to enhance children’s talk and engagement in primary science lessons. The research provided evidence of an increase in discourse focused on argument and reasoning, and a positive impact on children’s engagement and motivation. This case study focuses on one of the strategies (demonstration lessons) used to help teachers implement key findings from the PUPPETS Project research. Data were gathered from groups of teachers who observed demonstration lessons. The purpose of the case study was to explore the value of demonstration lessons as a potential model for teacher professional development within the PUPPETS Project. Teachers responded positively to the demonstration lessons and engaged in significant professional dialogue about the use of puppets that mirrored findings from the original research. Their response suggests that demonstration lessons provide a useful complement to the strategies currently used for teacher professional development.