Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Kids connecting with puppets

Donna, one of the stellar teachers at East Heights Early Childhood Family Center, sent me this picture the other day. She told me that this child is autistic, so it was especially meaningful that he interacted with Billy Turtle.

Puppets are magic. When used effectively, they connect with children in ways we can't anticipate or expect. My friend Suzanne's daughter had a long conversation with a turtle puppet like Billy--she told the puppet things she wouldn't tell her mother, though her mother was in fact manipulating the puppet. When my nephew was small, his puppet Fred had a conversation with my puppet Nigel on the phone. At one point he said, "Wait a minute, Fred, I want to say something." He took Fred off his hand and said what he needed to.

One of my favorite memories of puppet connection happened at a small festival at Haskell Indian Nations University about ten years ago. I was between performances (no, not Native American stories), walking around with Trixie on my hand. She said hello, shook hands, made small talk. She held hands with a little girl who was about four. The band on the stage began to play, so Trixie started to dance. She and the little girl held hands and swayed to the music, looking each other in the eye, not speaking, for about five minutes. Magic.


Granny Sue said...

Puppets are magic. The photo of the boy with the turtle is amazing.

Yesterday while doing a show at a library, I had one small boy (probably not more than 3 years old, if that) be the puppy in the story. As I gave him the puppet, I told him that the puppy wasn't in the story until near the end, so he needed to be very quiet until his part.

The little boy put a finger to his mouth, then held up his puppet and told it "Shhhh!" He and the puppet were completely quiet until their turn, when they did a stellar job. What a guy.

At another library I asked two kids in their early teens to use the create-a-puppet kits to make puppets for a story based on the City Mouse Country Mouse tale. Later I learned that one of the teens was extremely shy and was new to the library. He did a great job with his part and even the librarian was surprised.

Puppets bring out something in children that may not be visible otherwise--a willingness to believe in make-believe, perhaps? or...???

PriscillaHowe said...

I knew you'd get it, Granny Sue. Great stories! Thanks for sharing them.