Puppet shows add to students’ skills in extended learning programPuppet shows add to students’ skills in extended learning program

Christine June, Story and photos
415th Base Support Battalion

***image1***The problem was “Thumper” the mouse didn’t have any friends, and the solution was “Friends,” a puppet show created by four Kaiserslautern American Elementary School first-graders.

“Friends” was one of four puppet shows held April 5 in KAES first-grade classrooms. The puppet shows were a part of this year’s KAES Gifted Resource Extended Learning Program in Language Arts for first-graders.

“I feel like it’s just another avenue for teachers to meet the needs of students,” said Bev Filer, KAES Gifted Resource teacher. “The teachers and I work together, and our whole objective is to meet their students’ advanced academic needs.”

***image2***This year, the extended learning program for first-graders included language arts and science. It began the end of the second quarter and lasting until the end of the third quarter.

“It’s a wonderful program. It offers students an opportunity to be exposed to different curriculum and activities,” said Lisa M. Perkins, KAES first-grade teacher whose four students were in the “Friends” puppet play. “It challenges their minds.”

In the science program, 16 students were selected to investigate rocks and minerals through resource books and the internet.

“With science, there’s not really a product like with language arts, it’s an investigation and we do a lot of hands-on activities,” said Ms. Filer, who also teaches the extended learning program and projects to second- through fifth-grade students.

Each language arts group was made up of three to four students who dictated the puppet shows to Ms. Filer. They chose the problem, attempts to solve it and the solution, and then they performed their show for their classmates.

***image3***“The problem was that Hannah (Hannah L. Keehnen, 6,) … Thumper didn’t have any friends. We were going to be her friends, and we did,” said Bryanna N. Lawrence, 7, KAES first-grader who was “Ariyon Bee” in the “Friends” puppet play. “We told her about friends. We were nice to her. We weren’t mean, and we just wanted to be her friend.”

“Students were selected for the KAES extended learning program by their teachers based on the students’ task commitment and mastery in the classroom, according to Ms. Filer.

Mastery in the classroom would mean that they really had a grasp on their skills,” said Ms. Filer, who has taught gifted students for almost 20 years. “Task commitment means that students can complete things, stick to it and get it done.

“They have to want to do this because it is work,” she said.
Ms. Filer will begin the extended learning program for KAES kindergartners this quarter.
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