School of Fine ArtsBallard Institute and Museum of Puppetry
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The University of Connecticut (UConn) is a public research university in the U.S. state of Connecticut. UConn was founded in 1881 and is a Land Grant and Sea Grant college & member of the Space Grant Consortium. The university serves more than 30,000 students on its six campuses, including more than 8,000 graduate students in multiple programs.

Schedule a Virtual Workshop

The Ballard Institute is currently offering virtual puppet-building workshops in a number of puppetry styles for groups of children and adults! Our workshops are conducive to educators seeking new and inventive ways to incorporate puppetry into their teaching methods, and to students looking to learn more about how to build and manipulate puppets.
Cost of each workshop: $7 per student ($70 minimum; if you have less than 10 people, please pay for 10); optional add-on supply kit: $2 per student (currently available only for local pickup/drop-off)
If you are interested in a workshop not listed below, please contact us at bimp@uconn.edu, and we will be happy to try to create something customized!
To schedule a workshop, please complete the form at the bottom of this page.

Available Virtual Workshops:

Rod Puppet Workshop

Using materials readily available at home, students will learn a way to build dynamic and expressive rod puppets. They will learn the basics of how to manipulate them to express emotions and tell stories, and have the chance to create short performances to present to the group.
CT Core Standards: Social, Emotional, and Intellectual Learning Habits (Develop a Positive Self Concept, Understand and Identify Emotions of Self and Others, Develop Executive Functioning Skills, Develop Modes of Symbolic Representation, Develop Logic and Reasoning), Science (Operations, Causality)
Material Needs: newspaper; tape; a toilet paper roll or paper cup: markers; string, yarn, or ribbon; 3 chopsticks, skewers, straws, or pencils (for your rods); scissors; hole punch; colored paper, fabric, pipe cleaners, cardboard, beads, or anything else to decorate!; optional: hot glue
Length: 45 minutes

Shadow Puppet Workshop

Shadow puppetry is a very traditional form of puppetry that has existed for hundreds of years in many parts of the world. Students will learn a bit about shadow puppet traditions, have the chance to create their own shadow screen, and make their own paper cut out puppets. This workshop is well suited for storytelling.
CT Core Standards: Social, Emotional, and Intellectual Learning Habits (Develop a Positive Self Concept, Understand and Identify Emotions of Self and Others, Develop Executive Functioning Skills, Develop Modes of Symbolic Representation, Develop Logic and Reasoning) Mathematics (Operation, Reasoning, Logic)
Material Needs: light source (flashlight recommended, but a lamp or phone light will also work); cardboard box and paper; handles for the puppets (this can be skewers, chopsticks, pencils, straws, popsicle sticks); tape or glue to attach handles; markers, crayons, or colored pencils can be fun but aren’t required; white fabric (can be hung up to make a shadow screen, but isn’t required ); optional to play with: any object that might have an interesting shadow, plastic wrap and markers are optional supplies to use as an alternative to lighting gel
Length: 30 minutes

Hand Puppet Workshop

Students will learn a fun way to make hand puppets. They will learn the basics of speaking and expressing emotions with their hand puppets, and will have the chance to create short performances to present to the group. This workshop is oriented towards television-style puppet performance, like the Muppets!
CT Core Standards: Develop Executive Functioning Skills, Develop Modes of Symbolic Representation, Develop Logic and Reasoning)
Material Needs: one sock; cardboard or chipboard; ping pong balls, googly eyes, buttons, cotton balls, or paper (for eyes); sticks; masking tape; yarn; newspaper; paint; hot glue; scissors; fabric/felt for decoration (optional)
Length: 45 minutes

Toy Theater Workshop

Historically, toy theaters were popular in staging operas and large theatre productions in miniature, but they are remarkably well suited towards an onscreen performance. This workshop utilizes the immediacy of our increasingly virtual world to explore an art form making a comeback. Students will learn about the history of toy theaters, have the chance to create their own miniature proscenium theaters, and learn how this form of puppetry can be a powerful and entertaining way to tell stories.
CT Core Standards: Develop Executive Functioning Skills, Develop Modes of Symbolic Representation, Develop Logic and Reasoning), Attention to Detail, Craftsmanship, Story Structure
Material Needs: A cardboard box (any size will do); cardboard (cereal box cardboard is best); colored paper; images from magazines, newspapers, or the internet; tape; glue stick or white glue; coat hanger wire, barbecue skewers, pencils, or other rod-like objects; scissors; optional: hot glue gun, pliers
Length: one hour
If you would like more information about workshops, please e-mail Ballard Institute staff at bimp@uconn.edu.
To request a virtual workshop, please complete and submit the form below.
“The activities were highly motivating and provided creative uses of easily found materials. Students were most excited with both the visual arts and the acting components. I would encourage all teachers to have their students interact with the staff at the puppet museum. They provide a rare opportunity to create a hands on visual and theatrical experience.”
-Nancy Bunnell
Community School of the Arts