Play with Puppets, Dumpling Making, and More…

Our experimentation and play with puppets has continued through the week, building on the Beavers’ interest in Japanese folklore and culture.  We finished our reading of The One Inch Fellow, a story about a one inch tall man who grows up and proves his tremendous courage and bravery.  Once again, the main character in this story encounters a wicked Oni, of which we later created a collaborative portrait using torn paper collage. Through this process, we compared and contrasted this image to the illustrations of Onis in other tales we have read.  What was similar?  What was different? All three Oni representations are now center stage on our classroom bulletin board, which is steadily exhibiting our progress, research, and hard work.

We continued to explore different puppet making techniques.  On Wednesday, we created paper bag puppets.  We used recycled paper, scrap fabric, and googly eyes to create characters from our Japanese folktales.  While they worked, the Beavers looked back on illustrations from the books we’ve read, observing the qualities and imagery of the characters.  Working with our collage and drawing materials, the Beavers created characters such as the Oni, the funny little woman, Uriko from Tasty Baby Belly Buttons, and the animal characters from any of the three stories.  Some students enjoyed the activity so much that they created more puppets during Choice Time the next day.  Keep an eye out for some paper bag puppets making their way home!

On Wednesday, Katharine Hill, a Packer Middle School teacher, came in to our classroom to share a bit about her family’s Norwegian and Scandinavian heritage.  She read us a story about trolls, explaining the presence of these imaginary creatures in many folktales from this part of Northern Europe.  According to Norwegian beliefs, many rocks and mountains are thought to be trolls who have turned to stone after being exposed to sunlight.  The Beavers had fun with this idea, imagining all of the places they might have seen a rock that once was a troll!

We introduced our Shadow Theater on Thursday.  Standing in the spotlight, the Beavers created shapes, animals, and movements using their bodies.  As you can see, it was a joyous activity that the Beavers are eager to further explore!  As we move forward in our study of storytelling, we hope to use the shadow theater as a new way of bringing stories to life.

To inspire our shadow play, we watched two videos of professional shadow theater players.  In one short movie, entitled Fireflies, the shadows were created by the actors.  The second clip we watched was a two minute selection of shadow puppetry depicting the Japanese folktale, Urashima Taro (we didn’t watch the entire movie, but we did watch a selection to exhibit the masterful puppetry).  Be sure to check out Urashima Taro here, and Fireflies here.

Another activity from the week was making gyoza.  As the Beavers have noted, dumplings  are ubiquitous throughout Japanese folklore.  When the Beavers suggested we make dumplings in our classroom, we set to work chopping cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, ginger, and cilantro.  We then folded and pressed the filling into gyoza wrappers and pan fried them for a delicious afternoon treat.  Although the gyoza making process was complicated and lengthy, the Beavers loved experiencing this aspect of Japanese culture and cuisine.  After enjoying the dumplings, we created a graph to survey their popularity.  With 17 Beavers polled, an overwhelming majority (14!!!) said the gyoza were a hit! We hope you’ll use the recipe sent home to recreate this Japanese favorite in your own kitchen.

With Groundhog Day reminding us that spring is just around the corner, we took time to reflect on winter and create abstract paintings of trees.  After observing the selection of winter trees in our Garden, the Beavers returned to our classroom to create illustrations of our observations.  Using masking tape and watercolors, the Beavers made the shape of the tree with the tape and then created a watercolor wash across the page.  By cutting the tape into long, short, and thin pieces, they were able to create complex imagery, truly reflecting the bendy, twisty nature of winter branches.  After filling the paper with color, they peeled away the tape for the “big reveal” – the combination of tape and color created negative space in the shape of a tree.

In other news…..

Arjun finally returned from his adventure in Brazil! Welcome back Arjun – you were missed dearly!  We had another birthday this week which we celebrated with pink frosted cupcakes and an Elephant and Piggie story!  We had a full week of Teacher of the Day, with 5 more friends presenting interesting and thoughtful shares! Thanks for another great week, Beavers!

We hope you have a wonderful weekend!


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