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UNIMA ARTICLE AUGUST 2017

Puppets for Education and Therapy

by Marc Kohler

marcwkohler.com

Youtube Channel: Marc Kohler

marcwkohler@aol.com

401-441-2129

A child makes a puppet in a workshop.  The job that the puppet has is “throwing

rocks”   The puppet discusses other likes and dislikes.  When the workshop is

done, the teacher explains to me that the child does not speak in class, and that

other students help them communicate.  After that day, the child speaks in

class.   In another workshop, a child makes a George Washington puppet.  After

the workshop, the teacher lets them keep their puppet on their hand.  When

“George” speaks, he has a profound and confident voice.  The teacher told me

later that a very shy child was shy no longer, and that the “power” of George had

given the child great confidence.  A special needs child, Tommy, makes a puppet

of a Red Sox pitcher, Dennis Eckersley.  I ask, “Did Dennis have any problems?”

Tommy says, “Yes, he could not pitch today.”  I ask “Who is going to pitch for

him.”  Tommy says “I will.”

These are but a few of the thousands of experiences that I have seen in

using my method of puppetry—something, I call The Kohler Puppetry Method

(TKPM).  It started in 1966, when I made a puppet with a burlap tube, stuffed with

felt, and the body was just a folded piece of cloth.  Over the years, burlap

became a very strong tube of cardboard stuffed with foam rubber, and the body

became a body designed by Alan Cook—with whom I had worked in the summer

of 1965.  The final impetus for the creation of what I called the Puffet was a

request from the RI State Council on the Arts to design a puppet that could be

made quickly on the street for arts events.  Since then, I and the artists of The

Puppet Workshop have helped over 25,000 of these puppets to be created with

children, adults, special needs children and adults, and about 5,000 were sold

directly to schools with teacher workshops.

The system is based on two things: an easy to make hand puppet that

takes no more then 20 to 30 minutes, and having no preconceived notions about

the character of the puppet.  In this way, the physical objects used in decorating

the head give a great deal of freedom of choice, so that it starts a “trip” for the

puppet maker and puppet.  I call it a “trip”, because it is after the puppet is made

that the puppet and puppet maker join in deciding the nature of the puppet

character.   We are not making puppets to fit into an already extant stories or

plays. Then, I ask six questions:  Puppets name?  Age? Where is the puppet

from? What does the puppet do for their job? What does the puppet like to eat?

What is the puppet feeling?  I add others as the workshop continues, and there

are actually many questions which help the puppet makers create puppet

biographies, life histories, family trees,  and personalities which will lead to play

and story writing with actual writing or taping!

The puppet maker uses whatever is laid out to make the puppet, and they

“talk” with the puppet to learn from the puppet about the puppet.  Together the

puppet and the puppet maker carry out a discussion not too dissimilar from the

classic Gestalt discussions established by Fritz Pearls years and years ago.  It is

not an Upper and Lower Dog, though. It is more like a friend discovering and

creating a new friend, and this new friend will say much about the puppet maker.

they puppet will express hopes, fears, dreams, confidence or the lack of

confidence, or whatever the puppet helps the puppet maker to express.  Puppets

created by makers who stutter do not stutter.  A puppet can jump, run, and scale

the highest mountains while the puppet maker sits in a wheelchair.  Parts of the

puppet maker’s personalities and personal feelings appear in the puppet.  The

attachment is strong and committed.  I once asked a class to rename their

puppets and create new characters for them—they vehemently refused.

There are other examples that will surprise you, for adults express

themselves just as deeply as children.  At a workshop for community arts

leaders, a puppet maker made a puppet of her maid, who had refused to use any

of the tickets to arts society events that the maker had given her.  When the

maker went backstage and she moved onto the play board, she could not talk.

Afterwards the maker said that they could not even conceive of what the puppet

would say.  At a puppet conference, a maker wrote that the puppet was a clown

in the circus—once on stage, the “clown” became the Ringmaster!!

We move in a world which has many levels of understanding and conceptions.  A

puppet made this way gives us a safe environment to express ourselves without

any judgement or criticism.  The puppet is completely emotionally “owned” by the

maker, and they cannot be wrong.  They do not even have to remember what

answers they made about the puppet before it appears on stage.   There is not

enough space here to include all the details which take place in this system.

There is room to suggest what the goals would be of my system.  The first goal is

to provide a reliable, usable, inexpensive puppet and system to use for

educational and therapeutic situations.  The second goal is to give puppetry a

product about which we, as a community, can be proud of and valued fro its

contribution to education and therapeutic programs.  My last goal is to return the

hand puppet to its important role in society.  We have experienced an

overwhelming influence of moving mouth puppets on our craft.  Making this

system available to the public will put puppets right back into our educational and

Therapeutic landscape.

Here are the links and resources you can see to learn about the Kohler Puppetry Method.

Videos:

I have written a short book about the method that I use at:

http://www.marcwkohler.com/introductory-handbook-to-kohler-puppetry-method/

There is a talk about it that I gave at the 2015 Puppeteers of America

Regional festival:

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=vXqnxtwppIg

There are two videos of the workshop in action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJAXo64mmG4&t=120s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8FyCDEvxlo&t=1606s

Here is a video of puppet shows from single session and multiple session

workshops:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doEoWPXes_A&t=1462s

These ideas work well with Special Needs people, too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEOGDmBz4X8&t=172s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV5Vr6rbTE8&t=1207s

UNIMA ARTICLE OCT. 2017

Puppets for Education and Therapy

by Marc Kohler

marcwkohler.com

Youtube Channel: Marc Kohler

marcwkohler@aol.com

401-441-2129

A child makes a puppet in a workshop.  The job that the puppet has is “throwing

rocks”   The puppet discusses other likes and dislikes.  When the workshop is

done, the teacher explains to me that the child does not speak in class, and that

other students help them communicate.  After that day, the child speaks in

class.   In another workshop, a child makes a George Washington puppet.  After

the workshop, the teacher lets them keep their puppet on their hand.  When

“George” speaks, he has a profound and confident voice.  The teacher told me

later that a very shy child was shy no longer, and that the “power” of George had

given the child great confidence.  A special needs child, Tommy, makes a puppet

of a Red Sox pitcher, Dennis Eckersley.  I ask, “Did Dennis have any problems?”

Tommy says, “Yes, he could not pitch today.”  I ask “Who is going to pitch for

him.”  Tommy says “I will.”

These are but a few of the thousands of experiences that I have seen in

using my method of puppetry—something, I call The Kohler Puppetry Method

(TKPM).  It started in 1966, when I made a puppet with a burlap tube, stuffed with

felt, and the body was just a folded piece of cloth.  Over the years, burlap

became a very strong tube of cardboard stuffed with foam rubber, and the body

became a body designed by Alan Cook—with whom I had worked in the summer

of 1965.  The final impetus for the creation of what I called the Puffet was a

request from the RI State Council on the Arts to design a puppet that could be

made quickly on the street for arts events.  Since then, I and the artists of The

Puppet Workshop have helped over 25,000 of these puppets to be created with

children, adults, special needs children and adults, and about 5,000 were sold

directly to schools with teacher workshops.

The system is based on two things: an easy to make hand puppet that

takes no more then 20 to 30 minutes, and having no preconceived notions about

the character of the puppet.  In this way, the physical objects used in decorating

the head give a great deal of freedom of choice, so that it starts a “trip” for the

puppet maker and puppet.  I call it a “trip”, because it is after the puppet is made

that the puppet and puppet maker join in deciding the nature of the puppet

character.   We are not making puppets to fit into an already extant stories or

plays. Then, I ask six questions:  Puppets name?  Age? Where is the puppet

from? What does the puppet do for their job? What does the puppet like to eat?

What is the puppet feeling?  I add others as the workshop continues, and there

are actually many questions which help the puppet makers create puppet

biographies, life histories, family trees,  and personalities which will lead to play

and story writing with actual writing or taping!

The puppet maker uses whatever is laid out to make the puppet, and they

“talk” with the puppet to learn from the puppet about the puppet.  Together the

puppet and the puppet maker carry out a discussion not too dissimilar from the

classic Gestalt discussions established by Fritz Pearls years and years ago.  It is

not an Upper and Lower Dog, though. It is more like a friend discovering and

creating a new friend, and this new friend will say much about the puppet maker.

they puppet will express hopes, fears, dreams, confidence or the lack of

confidence, or whatever the puppet helps the puppet maker to express.  Puppets

created by makers who stutter do not stutter.  A puppet can jump, run, and scale

the highest mountains while the puppet maker sits in a wheelchair.  Parts of the

puppet maker’s personalities and personal feelings appear in the puppet.  The

attachment is strong and committed.  I once asked a class to rename their

puppets and create new characters for them—they vehemently refused.

There are other examples that will surprise you, for adults express

themselves just as deeply as children.  At a workshop for community arts

leaders, a puppet maker made a puppet of her maid, who had refused to use any

of the tickets to arts society events that the maker had given her.  When the

maker went backstage and she moved onto the play board, she could not talk.

Afterwards the maker said that they could not even conceive of what the puppet

would say.  At a puppet conference, a maker wrote that the puppet was a clown

in the circus—once on stage, the “clown” became the Ringmaster!!

We move in a world which has many levels of understanding and conceptions.  A

puppet made this way gives us a safe environment to express ourselves without

any judgement or criticism.  The puppet is completely emotionally “owned” by the

maker, and they cannot be wrong.  They do not even have to remember what

answers they made about the puppet before it appears on stage.   There is not

enough space here to include all the details which take place in this system.

There is room to suggest what the goals would be of my system.  The first goal is

to provide a reliable, usable, inexpensive puppet and system to use for

educational and therapeutic situations.  The second goal is to give puppetry a

product about which we, as a community, can be proud of and valued fro its

contribution to education and therapeutic programs.  My last goal is to return the

hand puppet to its important role in society.  We have experienced an

overwhelming influence of moving mouth puppets on our craft.  Making this

system available to the public will put puppets right back into our educational and

Therapeutic landscape.

Here are the links and resources you can see to learn about the Kohler Puppetry Method.

Videos:

I have written a short book about the method that I use at:

http://www.marcwkohler.com/introductory-handbook-to-kohler-puppetry-method/

There is a talk about it that I gave at the 2015 Puppeteers of America

Regional festival:

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=vXqnxtwppIg

There are two videos of the workshop in action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJAXo64mmG4&t=120s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8FyCDEvxlo&t=1606s

Here is a video of puppet shows from single session and multiple session

workshops:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doEoWPXes_A&t=1462s

These ideas work well with Special Needs people, too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEOGDmBz4X8&t=172s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV5Vr6rbTE8&t=1207s

US PATENT 4010570

United States Patent [19] Kohler

[54] PUPPETASSEMBLING
[75] Inventor: MarcW.Kohler,Providence,RI.

[73] Assignee: ThePuppetWorkshop,Inc., Providence, RI.

_
[22] Filed! May 14,1975

[211 App}.NO‘:577,410

[1] 4,010,570 [45] Mar.8,1977

PrimaryExaminer—LouisG.Mancene AssistantExammer_RobenF’Cutting

[57] ABSTRACT

A puppet comprising ahead and a costume, the head comprisingacontainerfilledwitharesilientfoamma

terialsqueezedtherein,thematerialhavingaslitted

portion extending into the container from its opening, [52] US.Cl;..46/154 theslittedportionprovidinga?nger-receivingrecepta

[51] It.C1. ..A63″3/14 016formanipulationoftheheadbyafinger,andthe [58] FieldofSearch–46/154,22,11,1R, costumebeingintheformofamittenforreceivinga

46/156, 158 [56] References Cited ‘

UNITED STATES PATENTS

683,857 10/1901 Kilpatrick ..46/154 2,302,349 11/1942 Renshaw ….. ……… 46/154 2,433,555 12/1947 Hulse..46/154X

hand, the head and costume being in assembled rela

tion when a hand isinserted into the mitten and a ?nger of the hand is inserted into the slitted portion of the

head_

26

f2 24

‘OJ

2e

O
° ‘1

o2

0O O

O

4Claims,4DrawingFigures

U8. Patent

Mar. 8, 1977

4,010,570

fl 4,010,570 2

PUPPETASSEMBLING ‘BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a view in cross section of one embodiment

ofthepresentinvention. Thisinventionrelatesto‘puppetsandpuppet-‘assem 5 FIG.2isaviewthrough2—2ofFIG.1.

FIG.3isaviewofanassemblykitembodimentofthe

present invention
FIG.4 isaplanviewofindiciaforusewiththeem

ger and the head of the puppet that allows for effective
manipulationoftheheadwithoutslippageofthe?nger
or discomfort thereto. Slocum U.S. Pat. ‘No. l,432,628
teachesaslotteddiscinthepuppet’sheadforgripping
acostume-covered?ngerinserted‘therethr‘ough.vReich
US. Pat. No. l,4l7,860 teaches ‘an elastici’?nger
receivingcupinthepuppet’shead‘andhandsl’ltisalso 5 12,alsoshowninFIG.3,hasthreetubular?nger desirable to have interchangeability of costumes and

heads. Renshaw US. Pat. No. 2,302,349 accomplishes

this by externally tying the costume to the head. Fi ‘ nally, it is desirable to let children make their own

puppets by providing simple and workable means for 20 open celled polyurethane foam 22 squeezed therein

bly kits. ‘ ” 3 ‘ ‘
In making puppets for children, one faces the prob lemofprovidingaconnectionbetween”thechild’s?n

achieving that purpose. Lerner et al. US. Pat. No. 3,660,926 teaches a kit for making a toy character from magnetic elements.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides a simple, cheap, easy to con struct, and fun to use puppet.

The invention provides for effective ?nger control of the puppet head in a way that is comfortable to the ?nger, lasts after repeated uses, and requires no adjust ment for different ?nger sizes. The costume is simply but effectively secured to the puppet head during use, but iseasily interchangeable with other costumes. The invention enables a young child to construct his own workablepuppet,andprovidesopportunityforcreativ ityindecoratingthepuppet’shead.

The invention features in one aspect a puppet com

prising a head and a costume, the head comprising a

and glued to the inner surface of tube 20. Slits 24, 24 in foam 22 extend through the length of tube 20 along the axis thereof. Cotton balls 26 simulating hair cling by friction to the top of foam 22. Polystyrene foam pieces

25 28,28,and30(FIG.2)aregluedtoeachsideandfront of tube 20, respectively, to simulate ears and a nose. Tasseled cloth strip 32 is glued around the top of tube 20 to simulate a headband.

FIG. 3 shows the disassembled parts comprising a puppet kit, including foam ears 34 and foam nose 36. Sheet 38 (FIG. 4) of colored construction paper can be usedwiththepartsofFIG.3toconstructapuppet.Top portion 40, when separated from the rest of sheet 38 alongthedottedline,canbewrappedaroundandglued to tube 20 before any other parts are attached to give the tube a desired color. Lower portion 42 contains assorted humorous facial features 44 printed thereon. These features can be cut out and glued onto tube 20 to

container having an opening therein, the container ?lledwitharesilientfoammaterialsqueezablyheld40 createavarietyoffaces.Atransparentplasticbag(not

therein;thematerialhavingaslitedportionextending
intothecontainerfromtheopening,theslittedportion
providing a ?nger-receiving receptacle for manipula
tion of the head by a ?nger, the costume being in the
formofamittenforreceivingahand,andtheheadand 45 16andtheindex?ngerintotubularportion18(FIG.

costume being in assembled relation when a hand is inserted into the mitten and a ?nger of the hand is inserted into the slitted portion. In another aspect the invention features a puppet assembly kit comprising the head with slitted ?nger-receiving foam portion, a costume, a plurality of decorative parts for attachment to the head, and a container for holding the head, cos tume, and decorative parts prior to assembly thereof.

Preferred embodiments feature a mitten having a tubular ?nger-receiving member projecting from the 55 closedendofthemitten,themittenbeingconnectedto the head when a ?nger is inserted into the tubular member and the finger and the tubular member are thereupon inserted into the slitted portion of the head; foam material slitted twice to provide two slits being 60 perpendicular to each other; open celled foam mate rial; polyurethane foam material; and a head having a container in the form of a tube having an opening at each end, the slitted portion extending from one end of thetubetoitsoppositeend throughtheaxisofthetube.

Other advantages and features of the invention will be apparent from the description and drawings herein of a preferred embodiment thereof.

1). Tubular portion 18 and ?nger therein are then insertedintothebottomofhead14throughperpendic- ‘ ular slits 24, spreading apart foam 22, until head 14 encloses tubular portion 18. The ?ngers in each tubular portion are then manipulated to provide the head and arm movements of the puppet. Squeezed foam 22 grips the?ngersnuglybutwithoutdiscomfort,andbybeing in contact with foam 22 throughout its length, the fin ger has optimum control over head movements.

Other embodiments are within the following claims. What is claimed is:
1.A puppetcomprising:
an exterior supporting tube and a unitary resilient

foam core supported in said tube, ‘
at least one end of said tube being opened to ex

pose said foam core,
said foam core containing therein a longitudinally

extendingpassageextendingaxiallyofsaidtube for receiving and gripping a ?nger extending through said one end,

said foam core completely ?lling the crosssection of said tube between said passage and said tube to give stability thereto,

bodiment of FIG. 3.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED ‘ EMBODIMENT

IThere isshown inFIG. 1assembledpuppet 10 com prising cloth costume mitten 12 and head 14. Mitten

receivingportionsl6,l6,and18,portions16serving as the arms of the puppet and portion 18 for insertion into head 14. Head 14 comprises cardboard tube 20, open at both ends, and ?lled with a cylinder of resilient,

shown) contains the parts of FIGS. 3 and 4.
In operation, after head 14 is decorated as above

. described, a user inserts his hand into mitten 12, plac ing the thumb and middle ?nger into tubular portions

4,010,570 34

said passage being transversely so small in area as to grip reliably even small ?ngers and said core beingsoyieldableastoacceptreliablyevenlarge ?ngers.

2.The puppet of claim further including a costume in the form of a mitten for receiving a hand, said tube and costume being in assembled relation when a hand

a head comprising a container having an opening therein, said container with a resilient foam material squeezably held therein, said material having a slitted portion extending into said container from said opening, and said portion providing a finger-receiving receptacle for manipulation of said head by a finger, and

a costume in the form of a mitten for receiving a hand, said head and costume being in assembled

3. The puppet US PATENT 4010570mitten a10 relationwhenahandisinsertedintosaidmitten


tubular ?nger-receiving member projecting from the

closed end of said mitten, said mitten being connected to said tube when a ?nger isinserted into said tubular member and the ?nger and said tubular member are thereupon inserted into said passage in said core.

4.A puppet comprising:

said container being in the form of a tube having an open end at each said end,

said slitted portion extending from one end of said tube to the opposite end and

through the axis of said tube.

Welcome

Welcome to Marc and Fran’s Web Site:

We just finished the Christmas season with a Santa’s Village set up in our studio at 168 Armistice Blvd. in Pawtucket, RI.  Guests were welcomed in to meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and they could take as many photos as they wanted with their own cameras, cellphones, or tablets.  We had games and crafts for the children to play and do in out studio space!  It was great to see scared children become very friendly with Santa after he played a game of Knock-Hockey with them!  We had great publicity and made WPRI’s The Rhode Show three times the week of Christmas.  On the 23rd and 24th, they ran the article about theSanta’s Workshop, and then on Christmas morning they ran an interview with Santa an dMrs. Claus after retiring for their flight around the world!!

February saw us face painting at the R.I.Spring Flower and Garden Show!!  Four days of long lines and lots of kids!!  We painted over 450 faces!!

We are looking forward this Spring to offering our MAP OF THE UNITED STATES project.  When I was doing arts workshops for the Providence Recreation Department at the George West Playground, I made a cardboard template. of a map of the United States 18′ X 32′.  The children nd I made the map on th playground, and we did another one at the Washington Park Community Center.  I told this story to Andrea Distill,a reacher at the Carl Lauro School in Providence where I was volunteering as a reader through he SAG Foundation, and she suggested I do it again.  So, I made a new map template from, plywood,a and we painted one on the playground behind the school.  If you would like one of your playground, recreation center, or library, just contact us.

 

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A new Puffit Comes to Life!!
A new Puffit Comes to Life!!

 

 

Here is a;hot of a puppy;et that I call a PUFFIT!!  I invented this puppet when the Puppet Workshop was asked by the Executive Director off the RI State Council on the Arts too design a puppet which could be made on the streets of Providence.  We started with cardboard tube from th bolts of cloth.  Over time, I evolved a piece of foam rubber to insert into the tube to hold the head on the index finger.  In 1977, I received a patent for this puppet (No.4,010,570).  From that year until the closing of The Puppet Workshop made over 25,000 of these puppets with children, adults, special needs adults and children, teachers, and librarians.  This year, i decided that this puppet could change the way puppets are used in educational and therapeutic situations. It offers a puppet which can be made easily and somewhat quickly, and when the participant decides the name,, age, and othe details about the puppet AFTER they complete it, a whole world of creativity is discovers. The puppet then becomes the source to create biographies family trees, personality traits, stories, plays, and possibly even short novels!  So, I have these puppet ears and bodies for SALE!!  They are $1.50 for a head and body,  You can order them through our email marcwkohler@aol.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi:  Fran and I  are completing our fifth year face painting at the Crescent Park Carousel.  We are there Saturdays and Sundays from Easter until Columbus Day.  I spent my summer working as a Recreation Leader for the East Providence Recreation Summer Camp held at Pierce Athletic Complex.  I worked with The Rainbow Wolves, one of the 6-8 year-old groups, and the children were fantastic!  We painted plaster pieces, created mosaic pieces, puppets, murals, learned about rhythm, and painted bricks that we found buried in the playground!!  They were very old!!  In June, i played Owen Glendower for The Rhode Island Shakespeare Theater’s production of Henry IV Part I held at the Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence.  I was also invited to present three workshops at the Puppeteers of America Northeast and Mid-Atlanic Regional Homecoming Festival.  I presented two workshops on using puppets in educational and therapeutic situations and one on easy to make puppet with emphasis on The Puffit.  The Puffit is an easy to make puppet that I invented, hold a patent on, and am marketing now.   We face painted at the East Greenwich Arts Festival, the Pawtucket Arts Festival, and the K-Rob Festival held at the Carousel.  You can see both of us appearing as mr. and Mrs. Claus in the Federal Hill Columbus Day Parade.  Fran starts playing Mrs. Claus at Winter Wonderland at Slater Park, Pawtucket.  This will be her 16th year there:: December 7,8,14,15.  I will be at Providence Place Mall with a red suit on!! We are available to do Santa and Mrs. Cl;aux visits throughout December.  Please take a look at the programs that we offer schools, families, libraries, recreation centers, and any group that needs quality children’s programs. If you have any questions for us, please call or email us:                                                                 Cell: 401-441-2129 Home: 401-438-4921    Email: marcwkohler@aol.com

 

Here we are at the Federal Hill Columbus Day Parade!! We sat on the back of an antique pick-up truck!!
Here we are at the Federal Hill Columbus Day Parade!! We sat on the back of an antique pick-up truck!!
This is the most popular face for boys!!
This is the most popular face for boys!!

 

 

We use air dry clay, so the kids can take home there work that day, and they will dry very hard and last for years!!
We use air dry clay, so the kids can take home there work that day, and they will dry very hard and last for years!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Puffet takes a walk!!
A Puffit takes a walk!!