I had been thinking about building marionettes since last year. It fascinates me to combine the building, simple machines, painting and theater all together in one project. I decided to base our marionette making off an ancient folk tale from India- I can never find the exact title but it is about Never Rushing to Judgement and involves a mongoose and a snake. The children will eventually put on a marionette show enacting the folk tale. In the meantime I will teach them as much as I can about the culture of India while we are making.
After we read the folk tale together they all chose what character they wanted to create- either the wife, husband, mongoose or snake. I have a great resource book titled "Art From Many Hands" which had an illustration of how to build a marionette. It gave me the idea to sketch out instructions on how to put the marionettes together. I gave them each a "kit" and the instructions and let them work through it. Of course I walked around and helped but for the most part they did it on their own! Below is the wife or husband instructions....
These are the mongoose instructions
The following pictures are the husbands and wives. Can you believe the kids nailed them together and screwed in eye hooks on their own?! Yippee!
During week 2 we began working on the marionette clothes. We studied traditional Indian designs and the students designed fabric using geometric patterns, flora and fauna and stylized images. I sketched and copied a little pattern for them to make a long shirt, dress and pants. Some of them started sewing the pieces together and others I took home and sewed for them so we don't get too far behind (class is only 4 weeks and I'm worried we will not be done!). Don't the dresses look so cool!!?