Volunteer helps school build puppet theatre; librarian promotes literacy through puppetry

In spring of 2016, library media specialist Denisa Anderson and her students at Roosevelt Elementary School were so inspired by the book Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet (about puppeteer Tony Sarg who created the balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade) they started researching the history of puppetry and puppet stages.Their research led them to community member Jeff Eastman, a set builder at the Bellingham Theatre Guild, who offered to help Anderson and her students build a Guignol-style theatre for her library.

Anderson purchased the building materials and Eastman delivered it ready for the kids to sand and paint. Wanting to teach the kids about trades, he also brought in his power tools one week and the students loved the hands-on experience.

Once completed, the students made the curtains and added vintage art for the front of the theatre. Some students made puppets, some scenery and some photographed and videotaped the process.

On the performance side of the project, some students wrote their own plays, while others used published stories to perform.

The project ended up being the fifth grade legacy to Roosevelt, with all the students signing their names on the inside of the stage.

“It’s been a huge, messy, loud project but one that I hope will be a gift to the school for years to come,” says Anderson.


In fall 2016, fourth grade teacher Andrea Roper used the puppet stage with her class engaging them in writing and performing. A legacy in use!


Click here for a video produced about the process.


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