Spotlights
Turning tall tales into puppet shows at Rodgers Forge Elementary
2/22/10

Spotlight

The new year got off to a great start for Rodgers Forge Elementary School fourth graders. The entire grade was treated to a residency with puppeteer Carolyn Koerber.

During January, Koerber met with each of the five classes, helping them create original puppet plays based on Tall Tales, a fourth-grade unit in the Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum. Koerber's work with the students integrated the visual and performing arts with the curriculum. She guided the students in creating tall tales, turning their stories into puppet plays, and making puppets and scenery. The residency culminated in a presentation of the puppet plays on January 28 to the school’s kindergarten, first-grade, and second-grade classes.

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Everyone involved with the residency pronounced it a great success. In addition to enriching the curriculum, the residency aimed to promote cooperative, creative problem-solving among the students. The demonstration of these skills was evident to the teachers and artist, as they witnessed students collaborating on the making of lions, mice, people, and trees from cardboard tubes and cereal boxes. Students quickly adopted Koerber's creative process, in which there is no wrong way to do something. Teachers were impressed by Koerber's ability to provide a structured learning environment without impinging on the students' creativity. In just five sessions, each class produced a complete four-scene puppet play. 

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Koerber, who does residencies in schools and other settings throughout Maryland, said Rodgers Forge Elementary School provided the best possible setting for the residency. Teachers were actively engaged with their students during the sessions, and there were always parent volunteers present to help students. She was most impressed by the students, who were unfailingly enthusiastic, willing to take risks, and worked so well together. Koerber said she will never forget Rodgers Forge Elementary School. 

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The residency was funded by the Rodgers Forge Elementary School PTA and a Maryland State Arts Council grant.

Story by Alyson Bonavoglia, a Rodgers Forge Elementary School parent and head of the school’s Cultural Arts Committee. Photos courtesy of Rodgers Forge Elementary School.
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