LOVE CONNECTORS: Puppet Play

A Crafting Series

By: Jill Stockburger

Recently a proud uncle shared a moment of sheer delight in his niece captured on video. This beaming and industrious two and a half year old little girl was hard at work or should I say hard at play, stretching her resilience muscles through care taking and problem solving. Neurogenesis was occurring in rapid fire succession as she donned her best “medical” attire from her dress up closet, first soothing and nurturing her doll’s symptoms from “the Corona” tenderly with blankets, gentle movements, and comfort items, and later with protective masks in place, discovering a cure for her patient, and magical ‘fairy juice’ medicine mixed in the doll’s sippy cup.

Some of the great storytellers recognized the profound significance of this little girl’s seemingly small actions. Madeliene L’Engle once wrote, “Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write for only in such a response do we find truth… You have to write the book that wants to be written. And, if the book will be too difficult for grow-ups, you write it for children.”

This courageous two and a half year old was rolling up her sleeves and with the truth of healing connection through play, she was wading into the reality of her new normal to care, to create, and to discover what might work

“The genius of play is that, in playing, we create imaginative new cognitive
combinations. And in creating those novel combinations, we find what
works.” Dr. Stuart Brown and Christopher Vaughan

She was making meaning.

And, it is amazing to me how quickly this same meaning-making magic bubbles up when paper lunch bags are placed on a table with a few art supplies.

Personally, as the surge moves through our neighborhoods ushering in the increase of mask-wearing, puppets have put a playful spin to our fears and reminded us of the very real faces that still abide and that we hold so dear remaining just beneath the newest badge of love.

The Power of Puppet Play

Lest we forget Daniel Tiger and the Neighborhood of Make Believe, puppets are just as captivating and re-energizing for adults when we allow ourselves to pause and play.
In fact, Sesame Street, the longest-running children’s show in the United States, jumped on the puppet train long ago for children and adults alike. In 1969, a group was interested in developing an educational television show by delivering lessons the same way companies sold products with short and memorable segments. Originally they meant to have separate puppet segments and live-action scenes; however, tests showed that the humor used attracted the children and the parodies of culture engaged the adults. They further found that engagement spiked for both children and adults when puppets and people were in the scene together providing the ability to deliver all forms of practical messages that resonated within dyadic relationships.

Ages: All ages

Exercise:Lay the paper bag on its smooth side. Keep the bottom flap facing up. Point the opening toward you

Supplies: Paper bags, markers, crayons or colored pencils

Other supply options would be: glue, tissue paper, old magazines for
collage faces, old fabric strips, stickers, etc.

Draw the lips to create the mouth. Draw the upper lip on the flap, along its lower edge. Then draw the lower lip on the body of the bag, where the
edge of the flap meets it.

Draw or add the facial features.

Draw the inside of the mouth. Open the flap. Be careful not to smooth out any creases.

Use the lower three-quarters of the bag to design the puppet’s body.

Create stories with your puppet. Slide your hand into the opening. Curl
your fingers up and under the flap. Extend and curl your fingers to make
your puppet ‘talk.’

Additional Options: Feel free to create a sock puppet instead of a paper bag puppet. Grab a sock and tie a rubber band about two inches down from the tip. Stuff the sock with some form of batting OR use dry beans (a good way to create a weighted lap buddy for those bodies that need an extra dose of sensory love). Then create your face and body using markers or other supplies.

About the author: Jill Stockburger is a counseling intern with Memphis Family Connection Center as she obtains her Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling and Expressive Arts Therapy through Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass.
Jill loves to see all the arts modalities of visual art, music, drama, dance, and creative writing integrated with TBRI principles.