Where the Wild Things Are

In the summers of 2010 and 2011, I taught a two-week enrichment course in the Ames, Iowa Community School District as part of their Super Summer program.  The children were ages 7-11.  The students and I worked together for 90 minutes each day for two weeks.  I described the course in the following way in the promotional materials that advertised the course to parents and children:

Let your imaginations go wild as you bring Where the Wild Things Are to life on the puppet stage!  You will create your own hand puppet and paper mask.  The class will work together to design and paint the backdrop and props for the show.  You will learn the basics of puppet manipulation and staging and then perform the show for parents and supporters on the last day.

The objectives that I cited for the course when I applied to teach were:

  1. Explore art materials and creative process through puppetry arts.
  2. Increase fine motor development.
  3. Develop creative thinking and problem solving skills.
  4. Build oral communication and performance skills.

Due to the limited amount of time, I pre-selected the story the students would be performing, rather than having them write their own stories.  I narrated the story in order to give the students cues while performing. I chose Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, because of poetic text, consisting of only ten sentences and 338 words.  Sendak’s work is a masterful crystallization of a young boy testing the boundaries of his autonomy and being lost in his own imagination.  Like all great literature, it speaks of universal themes, and was of particular relevance to children in the age group of the class.

The students to became intimately familiar with this work, and exceeded all my expectations!  They did a fabulous job bringing the story to life and created all the puppets, props, and scenery for the show.   On the last day of class they preformed for all of their parents and supporters.