Cook County News Herald
A play of puppets
Dec. 01, 2005


Students in Kathryn Nelson-Pedersen’s class at Great Expectations School are learning something about identities this year — their own identifies.

For the past few months, the students have been working on a special project creating puppets that “look” like themselves as well as writing personal narratives about important events in their lives.

In the third phase of the project, each student will select particular stories from their narratives and write a script with them, Nelson-Pedersen said, with the goal of performing them with their puppets at a later date.

The project has been a great success, she said, both in terms of teaching the students skills in creating puppets as well as honing their writing skills and developing a sense of who they are.

Even a casual look at the puppets the students have created confirms this.

They’re fun and expressive and all very different, just like the students themselves.

Some puppets have wire-rimmed glasses perched on their papier maché noses, others wear hats, just like their creators.

The expressions on the faces are quite delightful, too. Nelson-Pedersen said she has been surprised at how personal the puppets have become for the students.

“They love to hold them and talk to them,” she said.

She can often tell who made the puppet just by looking at it, too, she said — the students have worked hard to be realistic.

At this point, many of the students have almost finished their puppets and are beginning to compile stories for their script.

Aliya Weisberg, for example, said one of the stories she is going to tell is about the first play she was ever in — “Alice in Wonderland.”

Other students cite stories of the first fish they ever caught or the time they went camping and the canoe floated out into the lake and had to be retrieved by swimming out to get it.

Others remember when they had chicken pox and what that experience was like or the first day at Great Expectations School.

The experience has been great for the students, Nelson-Pedersen said.

“It’s been a kind of celebration of who we are,” she said.
  



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