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September 27, 2016

The Center brings puppet construction workshop to 100 Russell County students

Salem Elementary School students in Penny Lester’s third-grade class in Russell County hold up hand-crafted puppets they built at a puppet construction workshop.

Young children love to be creative and work with their hands. Around 100 third- and fourth-grade students at Salem Elementary School in Russell County recently got to do both at a puppet construction workshop presented by The Center for Rural Development and professional puppeteers from the Wood and Strings Theatre.

These students put their creative skills to the test making hand-crafted puppets in a fun and educational workshop brought to four Salem elementary classes by The Center’s Arts Outreach Program through grant funding from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kentucky Arts Council.

South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization working to make a positive difference in the arts throughout the South, also provided funding support for a School Time Theatre performance of the Wood and Strings Theatre production, “Out of the Mist … A Dragon,” presented on March 11 at The Center.

“One of The Center’s four focus areas is arts and culture, and we wanted to give students within our service region a chance to be creative and design their own puppets,” Dianna Winstead, associate director of arts, culture, and events for The Center, said. “This activity was fun and tied closely to the arts education curriculum providing hands-on instruction in the art of puppet making taught by professional puppeteers.”

The puppeteers behind the creative talents of “Out of the Mist … A Dragon” production, which uses elegant reproductions of the classic adult-size Bunraku puppets of Japan, helped the Russell County students build their own puppets on a much smaller scale.

The activity was a unique learning experience for all students, according to Salem fourth-grade teacher Sandy Stearns.

“The students were exposed to content vocabulary in the arts and the hands-on experience helped bring that vocabulary to life,” she said. “The students had a wonderful time and were very engaged in this activity.”

Students in the third-grade classes of Teresa Meyer and Penny Lester and in Bethany Baird’s fourth-grade class also participated in the workshop.

Garrett Gosser, a third-grade student at Salem Elementary School, gets to work cutting a block of Styrofoam for a puppet he is building at a puppet construction workshop

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