Zombie aliens, alligators created during puppet workshop at Plum library | TribLIVE.com
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Michael DiVittorio

Christopher Zapf of Plum recently made a new friend — a zombie alien.

“He comes from a planet that looks like a circle called ‘Chompyland,’” said Christopher, 5. “He has a tongue sticking out. This is awesome.”

The young space traveler was one of 10 children to make new friends with puppeteer Joann Kielar at this month’s Family Night at the Plum Community Library, held March 13.

Participants used cardboard boxes, construction paper, cotton balls, buttons, clothes pins, glue and other materials to construct their puppets.

“What really impressed me was the way the parents just jumped right in,” Kielar said. “Some groups are scared to try things, but not this group. They were really involved with the kids and made it a wonderful experience the way they just all pitched in and got creative.”

Kielar showed the group how to use cereal boxes and other small cardboard boxes as a foundation for a puppet. She turned the boxes inside out and resealed them. Then she cut a slit in the middle and the sides and folded the box in half to make a mouth.

Children used that template and their imagination to craft unique creatures. Kielar also showed how to use clothes pins to turn dolls and action figures into puppets and make them walk.

“Anyone can do it,” Kielar said about making a puppet. “It’s really easy and it’s a good way to get kids or adults to express themselves. Children will often do things through a puppet that they wouldn’t do themselves. If they’re shy about singing and have a puppet in their hands, it’s like they forget (and start singing).”

Gavin Geiger, 10, of Monroeville crafted a “FrankenBear,” a cross between a bear and the classic horror character, Frankenstein’s monster.

His mother, Renee Geiger, said the family is moving to Plum in the summer, and the library event was a great way to get involved in their new community.

“We’re going to put ourselves into the community and see all the things it offers,” she said. “This is great. This is fabulous. It’s like home-grown, not too big. The kids don’t get lost in the programming.”

Melody Clausen of Plum said she learned how to make Styrofoam puppets from her grandmother, Shirley Crowell, and was happy to share the new puppet-making experience with her son, Benjamin Clausen, 5. The pair made an alligator.

“We’re taking pictures and going to send it to Meemaw,” Clausen said. “She would do shows, and as kids we would go do shows with her. She would love getting these pictures.”

The children and parents also participated in a song with their puppets and Kielar at the end of the program.

Tammy Andrews, children’s program/outreach coordinator, said the puppet show was exactly what the monthly Family Night is about.

“I just get excited watching kids create and families create together,” she said.

The program was free. More information about Plum library programs is available at plumlibrary.org or by calling 412-798-7323.

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