Monday, September 28, 2009

Puppetry!

Yesterday I went to a meeting of Los Angeles P.A.L.S., Puppets and Library Storytimes. If you happen to be in the area and you have the chance to go to one of their monthly meetings then you definitely should. It was like balm to the soul. I feel so inspired and refreshed. The meeting was a fairly casual gathering of librarians and other puppet enthusiasts to share ideas. We met at the Pacific Park branch of the Glendale library, which is a beautiful complex, co-owned by the library and the local school.

Judy Woodworth from artfelt.net happened to be there, as well as Stephanie Stokes from LibraryPalooza.net.

Judy's feltboard finger puppets are adorable. She gave an amazing presentation at my work a few months ago. She has so much energy, enthusiasm and knowledge, it was great to be able to sit and chat with her in a more intimate setting. She shared a lot of educational rhymes, talked about ways to reuse the same puppets with different performances, and displayed some different techniques for incorporating puppets into storytimes.

Judy proposes using both the front and back of one's hand when using finger puppets, either to take advantage of a two-sided puppet, or to facilitate quick "exits" or "appearances" of puppet characters. It's the kind of thing which takes practice and some forethought, but the effects can be really stunning. I'm enthralled with her idea to try using a finger puppet on one forefinger as you read a book. I simply must try it!

We all brought puppets and ideas to share, and were riffing on how we might use them differently. I was consistently impressed with how quick and inventive Stephanie Stokes was. Within moments, she'd come up with half a dozen ideas. She shared a simple and affordable Halloween craft, by taking a clear plastic glove and drawing faces on the fingertips in marker, creating a "5 Little Ghosts" puppet.

Stephanie demonstrates her "ghosts."

Sigrid Hudson, the organizer of the event, brought a craft for everyone to work on. We attached orange pom-poms to a black glove to create a jack o'lantern hand. There are a couple of great rhymes one could use with this.


Five Little Pumpkins
Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate.
The first one said, "Oh, my it's getting late!"
The second one said, "We don't care!"
The third one said, "There are leaves all in the air!"
The fourth one said, "I'm ready for some fun!"
The fifth one said, "Let's run and run and run!"
Then Whoooooosh... went the wind,
And out went the light!
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.


Five Little Jack O'Lanterns
Five little jack-o’lanterns glowing by the door
Father took one and that left four.
Four little jack-o’lanterns, a sight to see
Mother took one and that left three.
Three little jack-o’lanterns lit through and through
Brother took one and that left two.
Two little jack-o’lanterns greeting everyone,
Sister took one and that left one.
One little jack-o’lantern, with a great big grin
I picked him up and took him in.


One could even substitute "pumpkins" for "bunnies" from the Tired Bunnies rhyme.


Tired Pumpkins
"Come my pumpkins, it's time for bed."
That's what Mother Pumpkin said.
"But first I'll count you just to see,
If you have all come back to me.
One, Two, Three, oh dear,
Four, Five, yes, you're all here!
You're the sweetest things alive.
My pumpkins 1,2,3,4,5."


Interested in coming to a meeting of Los Angeles P.A.L.S.? It's easy. Just drop Sigrid a line at sigridhudson@gmail.com.

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