Tuesday, June 25, 2013

6 More puppet videos on youtube

With the "Storytelling with Puppets" instructional videos I've been doing,  I decided I'm tired of the post-one-video-per-week thing, so I just put all of the ones I have ready up on YouTube.  So now there's 12 up there.  And that will be it for a while, until I decide to make some more (or not).  The stories are:

What's in Fox's Sack  by Paul Galdone

Frog and Toad: the Story  by Arnold Lobel

Pickin' Peas  by Margaret Read MacDonald

The Big Fat Worm  by Nancy Van Laan

Squeak-A-Lot  by Martin Waddell

Morris and Boris: The Game  by Bernard Wiseman

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Another Puppet Video on Youtube

I've added another video to my "Storytelling with Puppets" page on Youtube.  There are five others on that page, with more to come soon.   This one is Lizard's Song by George Shannon.  You can also view it below:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Seals on the Bus, Baby Driving

Book:  The Seals on the Bus  by Lenny Hort.  Illustrated by C. Brian Karas
Puppets:  Seal, Baby, plus a handful of Other Animals
Props:  None
Presenters:  One
Audience:  Toddler Time (1 and 2 year olds)

I always do one puppet story in my Toddler Time sessions and sometimes I have a tendency to try to squeeze a 2-3 year old story into this session for 1 and 2 year olds.  Partly because there aren't enough really great 1-2 year old books that adapt for puppets, but also because I just like a little bit more of a story.  Something like Squeak-A-Lot or What Will Fat Cat Sit On is just a little more fun to tell than Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?.  And really, those slightly more involved stories end up working well, but I have to admit, the simple stuff is really reliable for this age group.

Seals on the Bus fits that category.  I usually tell it just after singing (or having Raffi sing) The Wheels on the Bus.  Then I introduce the book:  "There's a song about wheels on the bus; what if there were seals on a bus?  So they get the idea that it's a take-off.  (I mean, Weird Al is always funnier when you know the song he's parodying).  The picture book is very clever, with Brian Karas' illustrations adding a kind of storyline to the progression of animal sounds....but for puppets, I stick to the progression of animal sounds.  Which makes it a simple series of Pop-Outs.  First it's Seal, then really any animals you want to bring out....I don't stick to what's in the book. 

After we've all sung:  "the seals on the bus go Arf Arf Arf," I kind of stop to build up to the next animal, and provide a clue or two:   "Now we know there are seals on the bus.  I wonder what other animals are on the bus?  [peek in the puppet bag].  Oh!  This next animal has a long tail...and eats bananas.  [pop out Monkey and all sing]: The monkeys on the bus go eee!  eee!  eee!  (or whatever your preferred monkey sound is).   So this sets up a nice pattern with some guessing, some vocabulary, and lots of participation.  The puppetry is easy to manage, since puppets don't even interact with each other.  Just pop out, make the sound, and back in the bag.

I always like to include a Giraffe for change of pace:  "the Giraffe on the bus goes..."[finger to lips and say nothing].  And I end it with the Driver on the Bus:   "Now it's time for the driver.  Who do you think the driver will be?...[anticipation builds....peek in the puppet bag].  Oh!  This is not the driver I expected!"  [anticipation builds even more....and out pops:  a Baby!]   I don't know why, but the idea of a baby driving a bus (and saying "Waa, waa, waa"] is just really funny.  And a good way to end it.

My one regret with this story is that I don't have a Pigeon puppet.  But it's probably just as well, because then I wouldn't be able to resist making it:  "The pigeon on the bus says:   'Please let me drive the bus!  I'll be your best friend!  I'll give you five bucks! I have feelings too!...'"  and on and on.  Which would amuse me quite a bit and maybe a parent or two, but those toddlers just wouldn't get it. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

"Storytelling with Puppets" videos on Youtube

Here's something new (for me at least) on this blog:  Video instruction/demonstration of some of the stories I like to do.  I can't manage to put our public, multi-person storytimes and programs on video yet, so I decided to focus on one of my favorite ways to tell stories without the book:  Storytelling with puppets (but without a stage). 

So I've started up a Youtube channel where I'll add videos, probably one
 per week.  The videos show the story being told, along with some tips and suggestions mixed in.  There are a few up there now, at http://www.youtube.com/user/stories13579.  Here's one sample (I know, I don't look very happy on this thumbnail, but the other choices were even worse...):

If these videos seem useful to folks, I'll continue adding them, probably once a week or so, and mention them on this blog when I add new ones.  I'll also add links to previous posts on this blog if there's now a video to match.

I'd be interested to hear if these are useful, and also any suggestions to make them better (as long as the suggestions don't require fancy equipment, any level of video expertise, or more than just a little bit of effort...).    And I'll keep posting on this blog the usual video-less way, as well...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Frog and Toad and the Story

Story:  "Frog and Toad: the Story"  from the book Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel
Puppets:  Frog and Toad (or two frogs will do)
Props:  Squirt Bottle
Presenters:  One (with puppets) or Two (as an Act-Out)
Audience:  Family Storytime
Link to "Storytelling with Puppets" video demo

This may have been the first story I ever told with puppets.  The Friends of the Pleasanton (CA) had just paid for a couple hundred dollars worth of Folkmanis puppets for us, and I had never really done anything with puppets.  We chose wisely, though, and got two Frog puppets (in those days there was only one Folkmanis frog option) thinking Frog and Toad might be a possibility.  I was still too unconfident to try them until I heard Mr. Lobel reading his own stories on tape (books on tape:  that was kind of a new thing back then in the late 80's).  He brought them to life so perfectly, I decided I should try.

"The Story" seemed like the simplest to tell.  Frog doesn't feel well, so Toad tries to think of a story to tell him, and tries some silly stuff to generate an idea:   He walks back and forth:  very easy to do with a puppet.  He stands on his head:  pretty easy too.  He dumps water on his head:  okay, this one was a little harder.  It's kind of awkward to make a hand puppet look as if he's pour water on his own head....they don't have the reach.  So, remembering the advice of Beckie Brazell, an experienced teller and puppeteer, that "if you ever have the opportunity, squirt the audience with water," I had Toad get a squirt bottle and squirt himself...but mostly he misses himself and gets the kids.  Finally Toad bangs his head against the wall, which is pretty easy:  I just use my knee or the chair or whatever as the wall. 

Each time Toad does his thing, Frog jumps up from bed to stop him.  So there's some nice pacing there, as Toad gets progressively more manic while Frog gets more concerned.  Which leads to the neat ending twist, where Toad feels poorly so Frog, feeling better, tells him a story.  And tells the story of a Toad who does crazy things to help him think of a story.  This gives the puppeteer a chance to run through each of the silly antics again, with Frog this time. 

The puppetry is fairly straightforward, with a few touches to make it all work well.  Toad should hesitate a bit before each new action, giving the kids some time to anticipate.  For the water squirting bit, I slip one hand out of Frog to work the squirter, while the other hand still has Toad, but that's simple since Frog is just resting.  Other than that, it mostly comes to life through the words, the plot, and the voices...the voices don't have to be wildly unique, just enough to suggest a bit of silliness in Toad and a more sensible, regular voice for Frog.

This is also a great story for a two-person act out.  Brad and I did it a while ago in Family
Storytime, and the physical humor with puppets is enlarged with real people.  Crashing into the wall is especially fun.  I used to be able to stand on my head and used this story as one opportunity to show off that talent in the role of Toad, but I don't do that anymore....we changed it to "holding head upside down," which even I can manage and is still pretty funny.