Heart-a-Day #34 “The temple of art is built in words.” Josiah Gilbert Holland

In the forth grade, I discovered I had a passion for puppetry. I’m not sure how this came about. I was growing up at the time Sesame Street first aired on television, but I was beyond the academics it was teaching. We had friends of our family who were neighbors with Marie Hitchcock, the San Diego Puppet Lady. She had performed at our elementary school, Golden Avenue in Lemon Grove, California. But I think my love of puppets and puppetry came from a desire to entertain my younger sister and brother. What better way than with puppets?

My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Mates, would walk us to the local branch of the county library once a month. There I could get lost in the stacks discovering new and curious books on puppets. I felt invigorated hunting for the book I desired using the card catalog (an old school method of organizing books on 3 x 5 cards, alphabetized and using the Dewy Decimal system). Finding the book I was searching filled me with joy and anticipation. That book was The Art of Puppetry by Bill Baird. I checked out the book and took it home. I got lost in the vivid photographs of Punch and Judy, incredible marionettes, and the detailed text. So lost in fact, that I actually lost the book! I was never able to return the book. My family was in no position to, or saw the importance of paying the fines or late fees. A few years back, I stumbled across a copy of the book in a thrift store. Of course I bought it. All the joy and happiness I had in fourth grade came back with it. I should probably return it to the library.

Doing things that you were passionate about as a child with you students is incredibly engaging. On the International Day of the Puppet, March 21, we always make sock puppets. We use them to sing, read to each other, and to act out stories. The students have fun, are learning and enthusiastically engaged. Share your childhood passions with your students and watch them get lost in the discovery of their own passions.

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I am an artist, musician, author and kindergarten teacher wanting to share what I have learned about teaching and making art.

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