First, I have to say these are 3rd to 5th graders. You've gotta see the sets they've designed for their puppet shows.
There's a fine line between having a student create something they are proud of and that fits their vision, and getting frustrated because their concept encounters too many technical difficulties. So I listen closely right from the beginning to what the students are imagining -I talk with them all along the way and guide them so that their designs are feasible but still get the job done for their story.
First, here's a story that takes place under the ocean. The main character is a squid. The item on the left is a talking trash can. There's a pipe cleaner underneath that makes its lid go up and down.
This next one takes place in a fast food restaurant. The windows in the freezer at the left are open, so they can change the weather - which is part of the story. Currently it's sunny, but they can pull the sun out of there and put a storm in. The weather is on a stick so it can be moved.
This next one is the bedroom of a very intelligent character. The poster at center depicts Einstein (hence the fuzzy hair) - and has the quote, "If you can't explain something simply, then you don't understand it well enough." Love the couch. I think she has a future in furniture or interior design. And isn't that window tasty?
In that same story, one character travels into another's brain. I'm not kidding. Here's that the brain looks like. It's got solar panels, and a control panel, and staircases all over, and it's just amazing.
In terms of materials, we used those three-fold display boards you get for science fairs. I put a board across the front, and then cut a hole in the back so they can stick their arms in there. This gives us a front and a back for the scenery. Like a diorama with a hole in the back.
Then, we used foamie sheets to make the scenery itself - it's so easy to cut into shapes and draw on. Then we went through approximately 80 buckets of glue.