Just For Fun
Marionettes, Hand Puppets, Finger Puppets...
It was fun getting back to the Center and gathering with my morning group! They know how to have fun, with any theme!
I asked if any in the group had ever owned a puppet as a child. No one could remember playing with puppets... maybe that's why they had so much fun. They were making up for lost time.
A few began using puppet voices right off the bat. Love this playful bunch!
There were some amusing conversations between puppets. Mostly everyone just seemed happy to gather around the quilt, after a summer off.
Mr. Robert saw the Santa Claus finger puppet and remembered playing Santa Claus with his kids. The dog puppets led to lots of talk about favorite pets. The knitted puppets got a few off on a tangent, about crafts.
I pulled the flamingo out last.
I turned on some music and this furry-bird did some dancing before everyone took off for lunch! It was a simple gathering. So fun to see these folks after a whole summer.
I carried the same collection with me, to meet up with my Memory Care group in the afternoon. The serious looking group was already seated around the table when I arrived.
I introduced myself to the new folks and spread the quilt on the table. The proper looking group, looked like they were ready for a serious quilting bee. I reminded the folks (as always) that we wouldn't be sewing. "I just put out the quilt, to make our gathering space cozy."
I decided to avoid confusion and not cover the quilt with tons of toy puppets... yet. I put just a few on the table and asked, "What are these?"
All seemed drawn to the hand puppets and we talked about how they were made and how they were used. We talked about how shy children can become more talkative, with a puppets on their hands. This group was ready to observe and talk. They weren't exactly jumping in to play!
The group liked my little Knight puppet, with his velvet skirt.
I had some curious history about the famous rod puppets that have entertained for centuries in Sicily. But they wanted to talk about the puppet on the table. "How does he work?"
I figured no one really wanted to hear about how puppets were used in Greece or China, either. I had some fun facts. I had recently learned so much about the use of puppets in operas and vaudeville... Puppets weren't initially used to entertain kids.
But, like my morning group, the folks sitting around the table wanted to examine things. They didn't really want to hear me talk. They loved looking at the Chinese shadow puppet. They liked the colors and the slick feel of dragon.
We did talk about puppet shows and some of the memorable characters, like Pinocchio and Punch and Judy.
I remembered my older brother putting on shows with his handmade marionettes.
As I brought out more puppets, we talked about which were the easiest to work and which were the easiest to make.
Carol remembered making puppets from socks. I had totally forgotten about sock puppets. I'd also forgotten about how my dad's feet became puppets when he came home from work. I told the story of my 2-year-old brother, begging my dad to take off his shoes, so he could talk to "Feeties".
Which is Best?
We tried on hand puppets and compared. Our fingers could make some puppets clap and nod.
Our hands worked the mouths of some puppets. We all agreed that the puppets with moving mouths, were the most fun.
Puppets from Radio and TV
The folks who were closer to my age, remembered Shari Lewis and her sweet Lamb Chop. Ramona began singing, "It's Howdy Doody Time!" when I showed the picture of Buffalo Bob and his little friend, from 1947.
I was sorry no one remembered Kukla, Fran and Ollie, along with me. But I was thrilled when a few lit up to see the photo of Edgar Bergen and his "dummy" Charlie McCarthy. I actually don't have childhood memories of that duo, but I did wear my Charlie McCarthy ring, which amused everyone.
Most kids are too focused on the puppet, to worry about my lips moving. Older kids look at my face right away, but will play along if I wink.
Some had questions about a few of the older puppets. They looked like they had stories to tell. When they asked who knitted the finger puppets, I shared photos of the good humored children, who sold them in Peru.
They wanted to know which puppet was my favorite when I was a child. I told them I remembered hiding behind the couch, to let my puppets entertain my family.
I so wish that my puppets could have triggered some of their memories, but they seemed satisfied to hear mine.
By the end of the hour, my serious bunch was just as playful as my morning group. I turned on the music and brought out the dancing Flamingo.
Other hands got busy, dancing the puppets over the quilt. I heard a few "puppet voices" over the music, chatting with other puppets.
It was a fun way to end.
What Did I Learn?
Our puppet gathering was a fun one, but none seemed personally connected with the theme. With broader themes like Trees or School, everyone has a story. I love it when I see a face light up with a memory. I love hearing the stories that flow with more relatable themes.
But... once again, I got to use some stuff from my closets and storage. Yay! Now that these old puppets have been put to use, I need to think about finding them some good homes!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.