After school Monday afternoon, the art room at Shelburne Community School was abuzz with activity.
Paint and glue, iPads and string. Hearing that the googly-eye supply was gone, art teacher Pete Boardman asked what else could be used for eyes? He suggested paint.
“It’s truly mixed media,” Boardman said as fifth graders swirled around his classroom with puppets on their hands and hanging from strings.
Some students were creating talking head puppets that could be painted with hair, eyes and clothes fixed on; others were making sewn hand puppets, or puppets on strings.
The iPads were for filming their fairytale puppet shows for a screening at Shelburne Museum on April 18 for family and friends.
Students were inspired after visiting the museum’s current exhibit “Puppets: World on a String.” The exhibit tells the history of puppets from stringed creations to digitally created puppets.
After the students saw the exhibit, Mollie Trow from Shelburne Museum visited the school’s art classes to help students think of making their own puppets. In their classes they learned “how to use art as a way to tell stories,” Boardman said.
In the fifth grade classrooms of Vasanthi Meyette, Monique Tetreault, Cara Crowther and Bob Gurwicz students learned how to write scripts and storyboards.
Students also learned about the history of the Muppets and Sesame Street characters. Each were used for education, and students remember learning from those characters.
“For them it captures their attention more than humans talking,” Boardman said.
Students “tweaked stories a little. They chose fairytales from around the world, and changed them,” Boardman said. He added one group turned “the Three Little Pigs into the Three Little Dogs,” and the creativity flowed from there.
Fifth grader Elizabeth Poulin spent time at home to create her Allie the Alligator for her group’s rendition of Elephant Child. Her group was interested in doing something based in Africa and each member got to make an animal for the story.
“It’s the first time we actually got to pick the puppets and the show,” Elizabeth said.
Fifth grader Quinn Gebhardt made a cow for his group’s take on the classic Gingerbread Man tale. Instead, they decided use Jon Scieszka’s adaptation “The Stinky Cheese Man.”
“We wanted to do a fairy tale that wasn’t one that you would usually hear,” Quinn said. Instead of eating the Stinky Cheese Man, like in the Gingerbread Man, people run away from him.
“Just making the puppets is the most fun part,” Quinn said.