Puppets for a Jataka tale

This past Sunday, I read the version of Duddubha Jataka tale (no. 322) in From Long Ago and Many Lands by Sophia Fahs, for which Fahs supplied the title “The Nervous Little Rabbit.” We made simple puppets — drawings on cardboard which we cut out and mounted on popsicle sticks. One seven-year-old boy chose to make a puppet of “hundreds of rabbits”:

If you look at this puppet from the point of view of developmental psychology, you can look for ways in which this boy sees the world somewhat differently from adults; you’ll also look for how his fine muscle coordination is developing, etc. If you look at this puppet from the point of view of an artist, you might think this is a compelling design with satisfying organic shapes arranged in a pattern that implies movement. I’m most likely to look at this puppet from a teacher’s point of view and remember how involved the children were when we read the story again and had the puppets act the story out. The resulting puppet show wasn’t much to watch, but the children were drawn into the mythic world they helped co-create — even the fifth grader who read the story, and who was a little ambivalent about hanging out with younger children, got drawn in.

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