Now, on to Day Two! This (particularly intense) day, teachers experienced three different puppetry projects across the curriculum to involve their young students as creators and makers in the art form. All building techniques I suggest are extremely simple and quick, to allow immediate access to the heart of the art form: performance!
The first project focused on bringing sequenced creative writing to life with puppets.Teachers created a simple story using a storyboard, made a hand puppet of their main character, and simple puppets of minor characters, then told the story with a narrator.
The second project involved making the text of a poem visual through shape and movement. Knowing that poetry is an important art form in Middle Eastern cultures, I decided to bring a selection of short poems from an important American poet: Langston Hughes.
The third project organically builds an interrelated Puppet City to understand how communities work. This is a favorite project of mine, and proved to be just as much fun for adults as for kids, with the puppet neighbors getting acquainted and doing business right away.
Although each project had a language arts or social studies theme, the over arching focus was the spontaneous and improvisational use of English to communicate. Naturally, English is the only language the class’ puppets speak!
A CULTURAL NOTE: This is my fourth trip to the Middle East, but the first time I have been here during Ramadan. My contact at the Embassy asked if we had been briefed on the plane, which we had not. I knew that sunrise to sundown is a Muslim fasting period for the month of Ramadan. But I was surprised after my first class day when I went to the mall (connected to my hotel) food court to get lunch to find all restaurants closed. I did not know that during Ramadan, by law, no public eating or drinking is allowed – even water. The work day is shortened to six hours, ending at 1:00p.m. (There was also a large supermarket in the mall which remained open, so I could get provisions to keep in my room). Sundown, into quite late at night, activity resumes each day. The mall I was told stayed open until 1:00 or 2:00a.m. during the month of Ramadan.