Puppet Engineering Kiwi Crate

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Puppets are the perfect STEAM-style blend of engineering (simple machines, gravity) and art (decoration), which means it was the perfect subject matter for Travis’s latest crate from Kiwi Co.

The crate featured two types of puppets, and first up was to Make a Marionette. Travis helped assemble the control bar by attaching two wooden sticks with a rubber band.

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The puppet’s body is a piece of cloth, and we threaded wood beads onto each corner through pipe cleaners. The pipe cleaners are then left at the top corners to become the strings for the arms. This was a wise choice on the part of Kiwi Crate, as there was no risk of strings tangling and frustrating your child! A final wooden bead and pipe cleaner go on for the head, and the pipe cleaners then loop onto the control bar.

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There are foam headpieces and stickers in the kit to make three different animals: a lion, a rabbit, and a bear. Travis chose the lion first. Roar!

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It was nice that these pieces are interchangeable so your little puppeteer can vary the plot of the story. Next up was Talking Puppets, which were completely different to put together. Travis first decorated two paper templates, the bird template with feather stickers and the crocodile template with scale stickers.

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We assembled the handles, which are made of three wooden frame pieces per puppet attached to a strip of paper with a brad. The middle piece slides up and down, allowing the puppet’s “mouth” to open and close. Travis added on his decorated bird and alligator bodies with the provided Velcro strips and then the puppets were ready to go!

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After all that, the puppets needed a stage, so it was time to make a quick Puppet Theater. Kiwi is great about suggesting ways to upcycle the crate itself, and that’s exactly what was going on here. Cut a rectangle from the lid of the crate (or a similarly-sized shoebox) with scissors. Poke the pointy end of a pencil into each side of the box and then tape the eraser end up into the top corners, so the box is now propped open.

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If your kids are feeling artsy, have them decorate the crate with markers or other craft supplies. I suggested we make a Puppet Theater marquee sign, but Travis skipped ahead into having the puppets put on a show.

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It was time for imagination to take over after all that scientific engineering!

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To finish the fun, Travis checked out this kit’s Explore booklet, including mazes, more about the science of how puppets move, and cultural facts about puppets from around the world.

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We also read Balloons over Broadway (all about the invention of the puppets in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade), and 10-Minute Puppets by Noel MacNeal.

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