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Puppets in Education  (PiE) is a non-profit organization, active in Vermont since 1982.  PiE consists of a very special troupe of puppets who teach children about disabilities, cultural diversity, children's mental health, social and safety issues, substance abuse, healthy bodies and AIDS.  The puppets, each with their unique personalities, discuss the topic portrayed in a clear, non-threatening manner.  They dispel myths through accurate information and allow children to accept individual differences and feel positive about themselves.  The puppetry is so powerful that audiences readily express their feelings and concerns to the puppets during the question and answer session that follows each skit.

Puppets in Education includes
Kids on the Block-Vermont (KOBVT) &
Friend 2 Friend Programs-Vermont (F2F)

A fifty minute performance consists of:

  • Elementary School: 2 skits with songs for 75 students for KOBVT or Friend 2 Friend Puppet Presentation for 40 students
        OR
  • Middle/Jr. High School: 1 skit with a workshop on the same topic for 40 Students for KOBVT or Friend 2 Friend Simulation Workshop for 40 students
Follow-up activities and resource materials are also provided.  Puppet/workshop presentations exist on the following topics: Demystifying Autism; Bullies and School Safety; Learning Differences; Cultural Diversity; Body Image; Personal Safety; Celebrating Individual Differences; Making Healthy Choices Concerning Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs; and AIDS.  In addition, PiE is able to design workshops specific to the needs of a particular school.

The Following are Kids on The Block-VT Program and Skit Choices

Celebrating Individual Differences
In each of these six skits, a puppet with a difference interacts with a peer who models inquisitiveness and the acceptance that comes with knowledge. 

Grades K-8

Blindness/Visual Impairments
Cerebral Palsy
Cultural Diversity
Sibling Issues
Grades 3-8
Learning Differences
Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome)

Children's Mental Health
The following two skits explore mental health issues, identify how children can get help, and focus on the positive attributes as well as the challenges associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Grades K-8

Depression
Grades 3-8
ADHD

Social and Safety Issues
This group of puppet presentations focuses on building a positive self-image by addressing personal safety and prevention skills; body image, social interaction; and family relationships.

Grades K-8

Bullying Prevention & School Safety
Physical Abuse Prevention
Sexual Abuse Prevention
Coping with Crisis (Military Families During Wartime)
Grades K-6
Divorce
Grades 3-6
Girl/Boy Stereotypes


Healthy Bodies
The three skits in this program address an emerging area of concern for children and adults alike.  In an effort to promote healthy attitudes and practices around food, dental habits, exercise, and body image, this topic supports best practices for healthy children of all sizes and shapes.

Grades K-3

Healthy Snacking
Dental Care
Grades 3-8
Body Image

Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention
These age-appropriate skits help kids realize how important it is to keep their bodies safe and healthy.  Programs for older students also assist with decision making and refusal skills.

Grades K-3

Medicine Safety
Grades K-8
Tobacco Prevention
Grades 4-8
Making Healthy Choices

AIDS
The dialog in this hour-long presentation discusses how HIV is transmitted, how one can avoid contracting it, and the difference between having AIDS and being HIV positive.

Grades 5-8

HIV/AIDS


Friend 2 Friend Programs-Vermont

Puppet Presentation: “That’s What’s Different About Me”
Workshop: Demystifying Autism – Simulation Game Program

The need to bridge a social void:

There is often a social void between children on the autism spectrum and their typically developing peers. Since children begin to make social comparisons between the ages of seven and nine (Rubin, 2002), it is natural for them to have questions and concerns about differences they see between themselves and their classmates. The purpose of the Friend 2 Friend program is to give children accurate information about autism (what we call “demystification”) in an age-appropriate and sensitive manner and to foster mutually beneficial friendships between children on the spectrum and their peers. Our Larger goal is to promote full social inclusion of all children. Creating a truly inclusive school culture is to create a collaborative identity within the school where everyone regards themselves and others as different, and regards different as the norm (Gest, Graham-Bermann, & Hartup, 2001).


Learning Objectives of the Friend 2 Friend Program:

The inclusive model of this program was designed to promote empathy for individuals on the autism spectrum by modeling, labeling, explaining, and normalizing the characteristics of autism, while never singling out the individual on the autism spectrum who may be participating in the program. Normalizing characteristics of autism provides participants with an opportunity for emotional perspective-taking. The sense of identifying with an individual on the spectrum shifts the typically developing perspective beyond simply understanding and accepting to feelings of empathy (not sympathy). In turn, empathy translates into prosocial behaviors. Prosocial communication is the basis for fostering mutual friendships between individuals on the autism spectrum and their typically developing peers.

We would like students to….

  • Recognize and accept differences in oneself and others by identifying their own strengths and challenges
  • Recognize individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as valuable friends
  • Use person-first language, i.e. “individual on the autism spectrum”
  • Know it’s okay to ask questions and express feelings
  • Understand the unique challenges of individuals with ASD
  • Empathize with what it feels like to have ASD
  • Experience positive relationships with all peers

Kids on the Block-Vermont: Educating Children Through the Magic of Puppets