Bringing Important Lessons to Life!
Meet Assistance League of Greater Placer’s “Kids on the Block.”
“Hi, everyone. My name is Mark Riley. I am here to tell you all about ‘The Kids on the Block.’ Sit back and enjoy my story about this wonderful educational program for boys and girls. Assistance League of Greater Placer’s ‘The Kids on the Block’ program is offered to boys and girls in kindergarten through 3rd grade in elementary schools throughout Placer County.”
“First, did you know?” The style of puppetry used by The Kids on the Block is based on a Japanese style of puppetry called Bunraku (Boon-rah–koo)…. The Kids on the Block puppets are manipulated with only one puppeteer to operate each “hand and rod” puppet. The puppeteer, dressed in black, stands behind the puppet with one hand in the puppet’s head. The other hand manipulates the puppet’s arm using the black hand-rods. This style of puppetry is extremely effective in creating an atmosphere where children feel comfortable asking the puppets questions about the given topic. As in Japanese Bunraku puppet theater, the puppeteers seem to disappear when the program is performed properly. (Courtesy of http://www.kotb.com)
“The Assistance League of Greater Placer’s troupe of educational puppets has performed or will perform in 24 schools throughout Placer County over the fall and spring semesters in the 2015-2016 school year. Each performance is presented by 3 or 4 League’s members who have been specifically trained for their roles. At all times, they adhere to the rules of puppeteering while performing on and off the “stage.” These puppets are always treated with respect and thoughtfulness.” says Mark with enthusiasm.
“The puppeteers have to memorize scripts too!” adds Mark. “The scripts really help children learn various solving techniques about bullying and increases a child’s awareness and acceptance of human similarities and differences.” The scripts are specifically geared to the age of the students:
- Kindergarten –
- Talk the Walk (Discusses safety while walking on sidewalks and crossing streets)
- Sticks and Stones (Helps children to learn about teasing and is a precursor to bullying)
- First Grade –
- Rescue or Report (Script about bullying)
- Second Grade –
- You’re Not the Boss of Me (Scripts about bullying)
- Third Grade –
- Learning Differences
- Safe at School (Scripts about bullying)
“And, Assistance League of Greater Placer members have been performing since the 2009-2010 school year,” exclaims Mark. “They have 28 volunteers ranging from puppeteers through support staff. Each year other volunteers called “school liaisons” contact schools, and ask if they want the puppets to come to their school.”
“According to The Kids on the Block staff, a common question is always asked,” says Mark. “Why choose The Kids on the Block? The Kids on the Block is much more than a puppet show. The programs are well-researched, comprehensive curriculum designed to educate elementary school age children about important issues. The children are given the opportunity to address their own specific questions. The puppets fully engage the children with their kid-friendly responses.”
“In addition to presenting at schools, sometimes we go to events. Did you see us in the Auburn Festival of Lights Parade last December?” asked Mark. “A couple of us were riding in a cool BMW convertible decorated for Christmas with lights and stuff. We were able to talk with kids and wave to everyone. We heard kids telling their parents that they knew us from school and yelled “hi” as we passed them on the parade route.”
“It has been great telling you all about The Kids on the Block. Don’t forget to say hi next time you see me,” says Mark. “Be sure to watch the short video about “The Kids on the Block.”
To learn more about Assistance League of Greater Placer click here.
Written by Shirley Lessiak @nonprofitalgp