What’s New in 2017!

Despite the best of intentions, I find myself sitting down to write a new blog post a full year since my last post. Yikes! Although I feel badly that I haven’t been putting my blog to good use as a tool for communication, I realize I’ve made many amazing connections in the past year, have grown my business to include some very valuable and exciting new services and projects, and the learning curve continues to grow as I immerse myself into the world of on-line learning – not only as a student, but as an educator as well!

Owning a business has much in common with being a parent. As with a child, when you’re spending time with your business almost every day, you don’t necessarily recognize the growth that is happening. It’s only when you look back on a photo or some kind of written documentation, that you see how much growth there has actually been! While sitting down to write this much needed update, I was hit once again with the realization that “my baby is growing up!” My website has just completed a face lift to reflect the changes within my business. I hope you’ll check it out and let me know what you think of the new look and the new programming.

Here are some highlights of what’s new in 2017!

Coming in May 2017

Beginning May 1, 2017, I look forward to working with the The Peterborough Council for Persons with Disabilities to offer a 6 week “Giant Puppet” Project. Participants in the project will meet once a week on Mondays from 2 to 4 pm at Seeds of Change in the former George Street United Church.

Sexual Assault: The Roadshow is a participatory art gallery in a shipping container that is travelling to 15 cities and areas in Ontario over a three year period. At each stop, local anti-violence agencies work with local artists and participants to create work that “talks back” to sexual violence. In honour of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Sexual Assault: The Roadshow will be arriving in Peterborough/Nogojiwanong for the month of May 2017. I am so excited to be one of the 4 artists who will be offering workshops as a part of this important event.

My workshop is called “Inner Wisdom”. Participants of the 2-part workshop will create 2 puppets that personify their “inner critic” and “inner cheerleader” in a reflection and conversation about our individual strengths and fears. The workshop will be held on May 13th and 20th. Registration is limited to 15 spots and participants must be available to attend both sessions. To register or for more information, please contact the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre at (705)748-5901.

Puppets in a Box

My creative woodworking husband, Alan King and I are combining our talents to offer “PUPPETS IN A BOX” – a 4 day workshop for kids & teens over the age of 10. Every participant will build:
• a portable wooden rod puppet stage
• 3 one-of-a-kind rod puppets
• hanging scenery backdrops and
• fun & creative props.

The fun doesn’t stop there! The puppets will be brought to life by using puppetry techniques used by the pros, writing a script, creating a storyboard and performing for an audience! To register and for more information click here.

Forest Theatre Camp

In July 2016, I had the great pleasure of partnering with Jumping Mouse Outdoor School, to run “Forest Theatre Camp”, a one week day camp for children between 5 and 12 years of age. It was a week full of outdoor exploration combined with incredible creativity. The result was awesome performances set in the woods and creek of beautiful Jackson Park (Peterborough) by a zany cast of young puppeteers and wild critters (or were those just masks?).

“Forest Theatre Camp” 2016 was such a hit, we’re doing it twice in July 2017 – once with 4 to 6 year olds and again with 7 to 13 year olds. For more information, go to http://puppeteria.ca/for-kids.html.

Know Me

I’m very excited about my new partnership with Linda Briden, Special Education teacher & author. Linda recently released a new children’s book called Know Me. Her book is the basis for a uniquely creative program for students in grades 3 to 6. This 1 ½ hour workshop gives students the opportunity to challenge assumptions and discover common ground with classmates and members of their community, despite surface differences. Puppetry is used as the medium for delivering and reinforcing the key messages. We use a combination of sock puppets and shadow puppetry to present to the students. Following a classroom discussion, each student makes and uses their own sock puppet to keep the learning going.

Linda & I piloted the “Know Me” project in three classrooms earlier this year to rave reviews. Our promotional brochure was mailed out to about 100 schools this week. We can hardly wait to start scheduling our presentations for the 2017/18 school year.

A Journey into Puppetry in Long Term Care

This is a very exciting week for me – a week of embarking on a new phase of learning and teaching as it relates to puppetry.  This week, I’m putting the final touches on a workshop for staff who work with people living in long term care.  On Tuesday morning, I’ll be delivering my workshop to staff at Fairhaven Long Term Care in Peterborough, Ontario.  Every participant will be creating their very own sock puppet, bringing it to life, and practicing a variety of ways to use their puppet in the work they do with the people who call Fairhaven their home.

Many people think of puppets as a child’s toy, but puppets are so much more than that!  Puppets have the ability to enhance communication, build relationships, solve problems, tell stories and tap into our sense of play and fun.  Tuesday’s workshop will be the first step in coaching care-givers to learn how to do just that; to learn to use their puppets to enhance their own work and the lives of the people they devote their time and energy to, through their work.  I feel grateful and honoured to kick-start this fun and creative journey with them.

I will also be on the learning end of this exciting journey as I begin to build relationships of my own, with the staff, volunteers and residents of Fairhaven.  I look forward to devoting time every week over the upcoming months, to building those relationships as a volunteer visitor, a workshop facilitator and a project coordinator as we work together to create puppet-based programs that will bring greater joy, creativity and connection to the lives of the residents, caregivers, family members and community who participate together.

I hope you’ll come along on this journey of learning with me, as I write about my experience in upcoming blog posts. 

Five Fabulous (and easy!) Finger Puppet Creations

Puppets come in so many shapes and sizes. Some are amazing feats of creativity and engineering that take several puppeteers to bring to life. Some are breathtaking works of art. Some are a patchwork of mixed media, using fabrics and carved wood and foam and all matter of other odds and ends to create the finished character. And then some are minimal and simple, but still inspire great amounts of whimsy and fun! Sometimes it’s nice to have a little reminder that puppets can be found almost anywhere and can be created out of almost anything, so we rounded up five fun (and oh-so-simple) DIY finger puppet creations. Using what we already have on hand – our fingers (get it? On hand?! Ha, puppet humour!) and adding one or two simple details, a whole new world of fun little characters can spring to life!

1. These marvellous little monsters:

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Paper, googly eyes, and a tiny bit of yarn, and you can have your own family of fun little monsters! (From Precocious Paper, on Flickr).

2. These funky finger friends:

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A great way to use up some of the odds and ends on your craft shelf! (From Crafts and Coffee).

3. These simple, Easter-themed cutouts:

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Foamie sheets – that’s it! It would be fun to make them in a whole rainbow of colours. (From Lalymom.com).

4. These sweet forest critters:

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Maybe a little more labour-intensive than some of our other finger puppet ideas, but clearly worth the effort! These little guys are just so cute! ( From Handmade Charlotte).

5. These twisty little characters:

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Aliens? Monsters? Little animals? I feel like the possibilities are endless for these puppets! (From One Little Project).

 

Happy crafting, everyone!

 

 

Making Kindness Count

The new year is such an exciting time. A chance to reflect on the past year (it was a great one!) and dream and scheme about the year ahead (we’ve got lots of plans!), all while feeling a little extra kick of motivation to get things moving and make some positive changes in our lives. Wow! If that doesn’t make you want to pick up a puppet and jump into the coming year, I don’t know what does!

One of the things the we just love about puppets and the art of puppeteering is the almost universal ability that puppets have to make people smile. Picking up a puppet can disarm even the most self-conscious and reluctant individuals, and can bring out a child-like silliness and sense of fun in almost anybody. So, we thought to ourselves, what better way to spread joy and kindness over the coming year than with…you guessed it…puppets!

Our goal is fairly simple: we have challenged ourselves to do at least one “puppet kindness or good deed” every day of the year. We’re off to a great start:

Sharing our favourite books with some special kids Blog Pic 3

Making a little boy’s birthday party extra special

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Bringing a classroom to life after the Christmas holidaysBlog Pic 1

 

Inspiring creativity

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Bringing a smile to a whole lot of faces

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We are sharing our daily act of kindness every day on Facebook. If you haven’t already, head on over and give us a “like” so that you can see what we’ve been up to each day. We’d love some ideas, too – what little acts of kindness have you witnessed lately? What is something small that would make your day?

 

 

Busy, Busy!

Hello readers and fellow puppet enthusiasts! We’ve had a long silence here on the blog, but only because so much has been happening elsewhere. We have some new things coming up in the new year, too, but I thought a quick recap might be in order first. I’ll do my best to put down the puppets and update you on some upcoming events, as well.

Kids on The Block

I’ve had the pleasure of spending much of my time with these fun characters! In October, I began a contract with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) as a puppeteer for their Kids on the Block troupe. We perform educational scripts in elementary schools in and around Peterborough, Ontario about mental and physical health. For more information about these shows, and to invite us to your school, please visit the CMHA Peterborough website.

Also in October, I had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop for the lovely volunteer announcers and hosts at Canoe FM in Haliburton. Turns out puppets and puppeteering are a great way to hone interviewing skills, while having fun at the same time, of course 😉

In addition to my puppeteering hat, I’ve been coordinating two community art projects in North Hastings, Ontario. The North Hastings Community Hand Bell Choir (funded by the New Horizons for Seniors grant) have been practicing their new musical skills and are now accepting invitations to perform for community groups and events. They recently had their first performance at the Riverstone Retirement Home in Bancroft, and received rave reviews. The hand bells really do sound amazing, and make for a fun, interactive and unique performance!

Creative ConnectionsMy second coordination project is a community arts project funded by the Ontario Arts Council called “Celebrating Creative Connections”. Participants are now enjoying a series of workshops called “Mural Painting and Papier Mache for Theatre”, facilitated by North Hastings artist, Ketha Newman. The masks, props, costumes and murals they create will be used by the dancers in the final project, a music video. It’s incredible seeing this great vision coming together!

Creative Facilitation

I just got back from attending an amazing workshop in Toronto by PYE Global called Creative Facilitation 1 and 2. What an inspiring and energizing couple weekends! I can’t wait to apply some of these engaging activities and techniques in my own workshops with children, youth and adults.

It’s been a great couple months, but there are many exciting things ahead as well. Don’t forget to follow Puppeteria on Facebook for more frequent updates. I may even attempt to get a Twitter account going in the near future (I told you great things were happening!)