Mother Earth Puppetry
Mother Earth stands consistently behind the earth’s yearly cycle. I have said if you only have one puppet for the very young, let it be a Mother Earth.
We work closely with the cycle of the year in our early childhood work. This remains so with the puppet work, bringing story pictures in the softest of seasonal colors. The images of nature’s gifts shown through our puppetry, provide a welcoming atmosphere for the child entering earth rhythms. The puppet stories are a compassionate companion to the nature table and festival celebrations. Other joyful puppet stories which help children meet the world are those with pictures that rejoice in the seasonal wonders the earth has waiting for them. Poems, songs, little tales of Jack Frost, snow men, leaf boats, birds in a nest, lantern walks and butterflies, welcome the children into the seasonal experience as well as the four elements – earth, air, fire, and water.
Of course Mother Earth stands consistently behind the earth’s yearly cycle. I have Mother Earth puppets that are finger puppets, table puppets, wool roving table puppets, marionettes, rod puppets, and shadow puppets! They have garments that clothe them in the four seasons. I use them all for different occasions and different ages.
For the very young, the wool roving Mother Earth puppet is a faithful friend through for the year. She can be a 3-dimensional wool roving finger puppet that lives in the roots of a tall, tall tree in my ‘one pocket story apron’. She can also be the wool roving table puppet that lives on the nature table, which can become a puppet stage at story time. There she wakes up little brown bulb, and helps her get dressed in her finest gown because Spring is coming!
I use these Mother Earth characters all year to bring the changes of the seasons. Mother Earth is a picture of the redeemed earth forces. I make these different puppets look similar, but with the signs of the seasons. One has autumn tones on her dress and carries a wool pumpkin. She has a cloak covered with autumn leaves. In winter, she has a large cloak of browns, blues, and white, for she is the earth’s mantel and her children sleep nestled under her warm cloak. My summer Mother Earth wears flowers in her hair and a butterfly rests on her wrist. When spring comes, Mother Earth carries a big wool basket full of small bulb babies. You can see the absolute delight the children can have just with this one marvelous puppet character being the seasonal thread for the year.
How do we bring the inner quality of Mother Earth into visible movement and gesture? She is the Earth Mother, the Demeter – revered in all cultures. She is the heart, pulse, and nurturing force of the nature kingdom. Move her something like a Queen of Nature, with great loving motherly movements with a profound sense of depth and timelessness. She will have a slow walk, all-embracing arms, and a gentleness towards all creatures in her care. The colors of her garments will reflect her connection to the earth, seasons, and elements. Children simply love her because she is synonymous with earth harmony and continuity of life. Make her a central part of your puppetry for all the young children in your care.