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Shannon Walbran Niebuhr is our DIY Kids columnist.  She is a mommy blogger who also offers creativity classes for parents, teachers, and nannies to encourage more effective play with children.

On a recent Saturday morning, I took my 3 year old son to a puppet show at the Kinderspiel Puppet Theatre in Emmarentia.

Tommy was wary — he had seen puppet shows both on TV and at two birthday parties, and he did NOT like them.  I had checked with Ruth Kellow, the owner of Kinderspiel, and she assured me that this particular show would be perfect for Tommy.  And it was!

We attended the puppet show “Nogwaja Goes to School & Learns the Bunny Alphabet,” written by Ruth and performed by puppeteer Margaret Auerbach.

We were the first to arrive, so Tommy checked out the great selection of toys, many of them imported from Ruth’s homeland of Germany.

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I took Tommy through to the puppet theatre to alleviate his concerns. He practiced sitting in the child-sized chairs in the front row, and we talked about the name of the puppet show and what it could be about.

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Then the other children and parents arrived, and it was time for the programme.  “Nogwaja Goes to School & Learns the Bunny Alphabet” is about (you guessed right!) a bunny on his first day of school.  First, Mother Rabbit prepared him and helped him put on his school clothes and his backpack.  Nogwaja was worried, and Mother Rabbit calmed him down by giving him a good breakfast of a carrot.

At school, a teacher led Nogwaja through the alphabet and used real-life examples of many of the letters.  The puppets pulled out actual cabbages, lettuces, tomatoes, and that’s when the interactions with the children in the audience reached a fever pitch.  The kids were calling out the names of the foods and guessing the letters.

Tommy also guessed letters and called out answers. He participated fully, even though he climbed onto my lap for part of the show.

I loved the way the puppets “climbed” on top of the little theatre — the “roof” represented another scene altogether — the road to and from school.

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Afterwards, we were so lucky to meet the puppeteer herself, Margaret Auerbach.  Margaret told me she constructed the puppet theatre herself. She studied drama and art and loves to perform puppet shows for children — stories she writes and directs herself, also.

All in all it was a great way to spend a Saturday morning.  Kinderspiel even sets up a bubble machine at the front door so the whole street fills with bubbles, which Tommy enjoyed chasing.

Take a look at the Kinderspiel and Kinder Theatre schedule to see when the next show is.  Ruth is very helpful in advising which show is best for which age group.

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