Puppet Partners

Dolores Danza made her debut last month when she sang the classic tune, “You Are My Sunshine,” and taught the little Mexican kids the words so they could sing along. I just sat back and let her do her thing. I like having puppets as partners when I teach small children anything, because I can basically melt away.

Dolores Danza and I with the ninos
Dolores and me with the ninos

You may recall that I made Dolores this past summer (see my July 7th WOW post, “Puppet Power”). She’d been waiting since then to get to work, and her chance finally came in September, when I learned in San Miguel’s weekly paper, Atención, about a volunteer opportunity at a charming after-school school in Colonia Guadalupe, called Aprendizaje del Inglés, to teach little ones English for one hour, one afternoon each week. What a joy this has been. Dolores and I have been loving it.

Aprendizaje del Inglés (learning English) was started in 2008 by retired American teacher Linda Curran. The school, which offers classes to students in primary and secondary grades, Monday through Thursday afternoons, promotes English language literacy through speaking, singing, listening, reading, and writing.

When I arrive at four o’clock on Wednesdays, Linda is in the courtyard with a group of primary school students, helping the children enjoy the basket-full of English and bilingual children’s books, as a sort of warm-up for my classroom lesson.

Director Linda Curran with students in the school's courtyard
Director Linda Curran with students in the school’s courtyard

This past Wednesday I brought a new puppet-creation I named Jake the Snake. He’s made of a knee-high sock and has (of course) no arms or legs. He told the kids that he likes to eat mice (“They’re nice!”) with tortillas and rice (“with spice!”).

He’s a harmless snake, I explained, because he has no fangs, and he has a rounded head. (Snakes with triangular heads, I learned in doing my research, are the ones to seriously watch out for.) I gave the ninos a worksheet with the new words, plus drawings of a snake and mice for them to color.

Coloring mice
Coloring mice

I’m not at all sure who has more fun with my puppet partners, the kids or me. What I am sure of is that I’m immensely grateful for this delightful opportunity. And I’m learning a whole lot. This week I learned the Spanish words for snake, mice, nice, and spice!

[For more information about Aprendizaje del Inglés, visit their website:  www.librosparaninos.org.]

20 thoughts on “Puppet Partners”

  1. Love your post. What a great opportunity for you to spend time with the little ones. I’m sure they love having you and the puppets teach them English. Knowing you, I am sure you do a great deal of preparation.

    1. Thank you, Arti! I made Jake the Snake when I was having so much trouble trying to figure out how to use my new-to-me smartphone. Making Jake was my “therapy.” I can make puppets, even though I can’t work a smartphone. 🙂

  2. Bonnie, what a wonderful program you are doing for those children, your efforts will benefit these children for a life time. I wish in So Calif they would have had a program like yours for teaching Spanish when either myself or my sons were starting school instead of waiting until middle school. These children are going to have so many more opportunities if they are bi-lingual.

    Look forward to seeing you when I return from the states.


  3. Yes…Power to the Puppets! Amazing the wonder on little faces when puppets speak! What is your next puppet…and what will that one sing. I vote for a farmer (a girl of course) and “Old McDonald Had a Farm”….nice to learn all the animal names.
    Love you, Delores, and Jake the Snake! Pamela

  4. So inspiring, Bonnie. It makes me want to teach English to los niños mexicanos who are living in Taos. Just wish I had a couple of teacher’s aids, like yours — and a place to teach! I so agree with Susie Flores — we should be teaching our English-speaking kids Spanish in kindergarten!

    1. Barb, I’m sure that after you retire (and have the time and energy for such things) you’ll find a way to fulfil this wish. One of the joys of being retired now is being able to pursue such projects, including making the puppets! 🙂

  5. Oh, Bonnie, this warms my heart. I can only imagine (but clearly) how much fun both Delores and Jake are, and are having!!What a great opportunity for you and for them! And as an actor, I know the benefits of having a character to hide behind, even as you struggle with that smart phone. This all sounds very “Carnival” to me, if you know that show. The movie version is called “Lilly” with Leslie Caron. She plays a runaway orphan who joins a small circus and falls in love with the puppets. The puppeteer, who has trouble relating in real life, falls in love with her, but only through the relationship one of his puppets form with her. It’s a great story, you should YouTube it (on your smart phone ).
    Thanks for sharing this joyful posts! Love you. xoxo

    1. Dearest MM — I’ve never seen “Carnival,” but it’s now at the top of my To-See list! Thank you so much for this. What a gift. I hope your new show is going well. — Mucho love from MX, BB xx (P.S. — I’ve gotten rid of the smartphone. I was beyond me. 🙂

  6. Quelle belle initiative de Dolorès et toi 🙂 Les enfants adorent les marionnettes et ils apprendront avec plaisir. Bravo et bonne chance. Merci pour eux aussi.
    PS Je n’ai toujours pas de smartphone, si ça peut te consoler. And I feel quite good.

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