On a sunny afternoon, Mr. Guzmán’s second-grade class was buzzing with the sound of second graders turning the pages of books and whispering words aloud. All along the wall were drawings of cats, people, and other creatures from the children’s book Stone Soup.
The kids were connecting the characters and story with the idea of community in their lives. They were showing their thinking visually, by re-creating the characters from the story as puppets put together from paper bags and colored paper.
The goal of the project was for the kids to show their membership in their community by using the puppets to put on a play for others at Lodestar.
The results of the puppet-production project were quite amazing.
A large puppet with a smile the size of a watermelon slice now greets visitors to the classroom, as does a cat puppet with purple legs. There is even a puppet of a woman with a complex hairstyle, a necklace of marker-drawn beads, and a very slight smile
In one way or another, each puppet is similar to the student that made it. Individually, these paper dolls may seem to be nothing more than cutouts. However, when they are put together, a rich story of the diversity to be found in the local community emerges. Through their work on this project, the second-graders had the opportunity to become more comfortable with the initially-abstract idea of what a community is, and of their role in one. As a result, students will feel more comfortable at Lodestar (which they will come to see as an extension of their home community). Additionally, living our community-based norms will feel more natural for them.