Lorelee's Library Looking Glass

 
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Lan



Joined: 06 May 2006
Posts: 2
Location: Prince George, BC/Canada

PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 5:36 pm
PostPost subject: Lorelee's Library Looking Glass
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Hello

I'm a public librarian who has come to puppetools for help with classroom visits--I do not like most forms of class discipline I have experienced, but have not the training nor experience to develop improvements upon them.
My mandate is to inspire joy in literature, but as I am mostly working in inner city schools, this translates into attention to story as a first step.

My first experience with using puppetools was pretty interesting for me. I used the basic papertalker structure with just two eyes and a tongue to make Frog and Toad, who then read their parts in Lobel's "Cookies". It was awkward to hold the book with them, but when they fumbled with turning the pages and became impatient with each other, the kindergarten kids seemed to really engage. When I handed out similar frogs to everyone afterwards, however, utter chaos broke loose as they all hopped around nipping each other and carrying on. It seemed I had allowed the joy thing, but that it could only be destructive because I was unable to uncover a structure for the group experience--what good could come of unrelieved pandemonium? I tried to get enough quiet to allow everyone to introduce their frogs to the class, but I was hopeless at the task of order. Then the teacher, whose discipline style I thought I particularly disliked, sounded like a great clear bell: "Frogs on head!" Frogs jump three times! etc., and uplifted us all to a form of Simon Says that brought everyone to calm without a single threat or sharp tone. Basic thinking for teachers, probably, but eureka to me.

I also tried these very simple frogs with pre-schoolers at an in-house library program. They may solve a long-standing problem I have had with finding material suitable for two-year olds and five-year olds at the same time. The younger children could not really manipulate the papertalkers very well, but were obviously delighted with the concept, and kept trying over and over to make them go. The older children preferred to hop about with their whole selves, but very carefully stowed their puppets in a parental pocket for later. Usually the floor is littered with the stick puppets left behind, but on this day there were only two crumpled frogs to pick up.

I think as I figure out papertalking choruses and more group activities like Simon Says, I will really be able to grow. Any such things that people could share would be much appreciated.

Lan
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papertalker
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Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 206
Location: Virginia, USA

PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 11:32 am
PostPost subject: Bravo
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Lorelee,

Great beginnings! It is not unusual for 'the uninitiated' to fumble a bit with the puppets and to have a little 'overflow' occur in the response. Take a peek at Steve's experience in the Town Hall forum. It is interesting that the teacher jumped right into the fray with a structured yet playful directive. It's important to remember to have some ideas in mind for directing the activity with the puppets. The teacher was instinctively correct to use the puppet play to get the children focused.

The motto here is do not work for the medium; instead it should work for you. The Workshop segment on storytelling provides guidelines needed to keep things from 'getting out of hand.' The video on the home page that models the reading of Rainbow Crow should give you some ideas for managing the reading and making the experience more responsive and shared, and therefore easier on you. A good reading with puppets should not require hardship.

Do not aim for a literal reading of the book with the puppets 'mouthing' the text. Instead use them to reinforce, ask questions, make observatins, etc. And do this in a way that allows you to bring each puppet into play without needing them all in hand. Air traffic control!

Note: younger children will be challenged by the papertalker puppets; they will 'reverse engineer' already-made hinges to figure them out.

The Workshop readings, teacher journals, and media clips should give you what you need to prepare for less turbulent and more efficient story telling. Play energy is powerful stuff. Once you know how to harness it, you can fly.

Thank you for giving us a 'Looking Glass' eye view of what it's like to experiment and explore new ways to use a medium that has long been a friend to libraries. As you try new things and report on them, you will be helping to make the medium more user-friendly to librarians like you.
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