Puppet 101

My original recyclable sculpture project for 3rd grade was going to be “magazine bowls”. Then, I was sent the wrong papier mache mix in my art order, then a giant box of fabric scraps found its way to my art room , quickly followed by two more boxes from a local furniture store (“when it rains it pours…”), and suddenly, I felt that the universe was aligning for a puppet-making unit. Okay, that was a little dramatic, but clearly, I had an obligation to create and not waste. So we started with puppet armatures (thankfully, my desperate shout-out for paper towel tubes from staffers resulted in the 225+ I needed in less than two weeks’ time). The pre-mix was not fun to work with, but it had the advantage of being a one-class effort in application. Students had to apply the mix to just the top half of the newspaper-ball-of-a-head, then apply one Kleenex (I made a quick decision to do this after too many students were letting loose chunks flop through their fingers onto the floor to the top before inverting–the Kleenex kept the half-ball from falling apart but without needing extra smoothing), then working with one hand/holding inverted in the other palm, students added the bottom half of the mix. I let them dry upside-down for one day, then flipped, so most of the heads did not get too flat. By the following week, we could paint, then the last week, we added yarn hair, fabric bodies, and other details. Now, here’s how you know a successful project: students started spontaneously playing with their puppets, kneeling under the tables to create “stages”, begged to take them home that day, named them all sorts of cool things, and basically, seemed to be having a lot of fun. So, guess what I’m doing again next year? I’ve already started saving the tubes..


~ by lgirbino on January 23, 2011.

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