Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Preschool Puppet Theatre

This February our library-wide theme is On Stage and last week we put on a puppet show for preschoolers. Originally, it was planned as a volunteer activity for middle schoolers. We'd meet for the first time on Wednesday, February 6 and the tweens who signed up would decide what story they'd like to put on, what parts they'd like to play, and we'd practice the show. Then we'd meet again on the following Wednesday (the 13th) to practice for about 30 more minutes before we invited the preschoolers to watch the show at 4:30.

Well. Due to the terrible weather on the 6th, we had to cancel the teen volunteer part of the show. I would have loved the opportunity to work with the middle schoolers, but hopefully we can try something like this again with better results. However, the show must go on! So my coworker B and I did the puppet show ourselves.

We're lucky that our department already had a nice puppet stage made out of PVC pipes and a lot of black cloth. We also have a very healthy collection of puppets. B and I put on a mix of songs and stories for a total of about 20 minutes of puppetry.

We started with the song "5 Little Ducks". We played the song on our CD player while I worked the mama duck puppet and B had crafted 5 felt ducklings attached to craft sticks. He used clothespins to attach the ducks to a ruler so he could move them all together. As each duck failed to come back, he removed one duck from the row.

Then we did a rendition of The Big Wide-Mouthed Frog. We followed this with the song "Mahna Mahna" (which is one of my favorite things I've ever done in storytime). Again, we played the song on a CD and we used googly-eyed monster puppets. B's puppet danced around to the "do doo do do do" parts, while my monster popped in for each "mahna mahna". The fun part was choosing a different part of the stage to pop in on. I surprised them a couple of times and came out at the bottom of the stage. We've done this before standing behind the felt board in storytime and it's always funny for the kids.

Next we did another story, The Dog who Forgot. Very fun as this is one where you can really interact with the kids. Then we did a felt/puppet combo rendition of The Itsy Bitsy Spider. And we ended it all with Old MacDonald Had a Farm. B accompanied us on the banjo and we all sang along while I picked out a puppet for each new animal. We like to end with a weird one, so I brought out the Big Bad Wolf to a chorus of giggles.

After we were done with the show, we brought out all our puppets and the small toy puppet stage we usually keep in the back of the children's department. We reminded everyone to please be gentle with the puppets and gave them about 10 minutes of free play time. It was fun, fun, fun. I was a bit concerned with getting the kids to let go of the puppets at the end of the program, but they were actually really good. We simply brought out our baskets and told them it was bedtime for puppets.

As much as I would have loved to get some of the kids in the community involved, it was easier in some ways to just do the show ourselves. Whether with volunteers or by ourselves, it's definitely something we'll do again in the future. We had a pretty big crowd and got lots of positive comments. Bravo for Preschool Puppet Theatre!