Friday, March 05, 2010

Batty about bats prep

I'm getting ready for this year's 2nd grade school residency, Batty About Bats: Learning About the Environment Through the Arts.

Last year's focus was on butterflies and dragonflies. This year the kids will visit the Lied Center to see a puppet performance of Stellaluna before our sessions begin, so the focus is on bats. And puppets. And stories. And the wetlands. The overarching theme is lifecycles, a topic addressed in the 2nd grade educational standards.

I'd like kids to understand how animal puppets mimic the animals they represent. I also want them to see different kinds of puppets, so I tried to build a bat marionette. I'm not sure if it will work, but it was pretty fun to make. Here's the result so far:

I know, the head looks more like a deer than a bat. I like working with Model Magic, but details are tricky in this medium. One difficulty in this is that the wings don't have a lot of flexibility. I've also been playing with a fabric marionette with a Model Magic head, but I'm not far enough along to show it.

I also came up with a simple finger puppet kids could make with craft foam. I tried a couple of thicknesses, finding that 2 mm was the best for wing flappability. Here's the result:
Kids will add the skeletal structure and may decorate them in various ways. I made mine plain.

At a meeting with the teachers the other day, they asked about materials. I was set on the foam, but as we discussed it and they played with the foam puppets, they wondered if construction paper or oaktag would work as well. Brilliant! I love working with teachers--they often see the obvious when I've been blinded by my first idea.

More on this residency as it takes shape. The show at the Lied Center is next week and I'll start meeting with the students after that.


Redhead Fae said...

I love this! Stellaluna is one of my fave kids books.

Love the batties! I want to be known as a batty old broad in my later years.

Anonymous said...

Bats have pug noses. I think this project can be fun - a panicked bat flies everywhere, neveer where you expect it.

Do you remember my discovery of how to lead bats out of a house? Turn on all the lights except for the path out a window or door. They head for the dark. This is opposite to birds, which follow a bright path.

Deb said...

What an excellent post! The big Model Magic bat looks a little bit like a deer with wings, but is quite handsome all the same, I once found a dead bat by the side of a country road, and was taken by how tiny it was; really, it was like a little mouse with folded wings.

megan hicks said...

Your bat has a very soulful little face. I wouldn't have thought "deer" for a second, until you mentioned it.

hart said...

I love the finger puppet bat. I bet the tag paper works as well as the foam and will be easier to cut out. Folkmanis has some ready-made bat finger puppets. Good looking, but I find them awfully floppy in the wings.--Jane

PriscillaHowe said...

Yes, I have that Folkmanis finger puppet. It looks good but is floppy.

As my attempts at making a marionette have not been terribly successful in terms of puppet movement, I've ordered one online. Maybe I'll post about that when it arrives.

I love the word for bat in French: chauve souris, which means "bald mouse."