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CV Starr Students Create New Creatures with Hybrid Puppets

“My favorite part is painting them,” Gia said, applying a thin coat of paint to her koala-snow-leopard-panda puppet. She and her fifth-grade classmates sat in Danielle Michielini’s sun-soaked art room at CV Starr, chatting excitedly as they worked on hybrid puppets.

“First we used tape, tin foil and magazines to make our structure and then we papier-mâchéd over it,” Aliyah Browne explained. “After that, we put gesso on them before we could paint and add things like yarn.”

Michael Biancamano noted the importance of the gesso step.

“Papier-mâché is very soft,” he said. “It's not hard enough to paint on, so the gesso helps with that.”

Michielini said students were having a lot of fun while learning some of the foundational skills for sculpture.

“They had to choose two or three animals and combine them to create something new,” she said. “We did some research at the beginning. They printed images and did some sketches of what they thought their plan would be. And then we talked about how, as you're working, your plan might develop into something different and what that might look like.”

Students said that’s exactly what happened.

“I didn’t want to make an owl at first,” one student said. “But while I was making it, I realized it looked like an owl. The wings were really hard to make though.”

“I wanted to make a wolf-bird in the beginning,” said another student who was working on a goat-giraffe-cat-horse. “Soon I added horns and it’s actually pretty good.”

Other animal hybrids students came up with include a tiger-dragon-elephant-bee, a panda-lion and a rainbow panda-cat.

The project incorporated engineering concepts and many of the district’s SCP skills. Students had to use critical thinking as they adapted their puppets while they worked. They also communicated with each other about their ideas, offering advice as they problem solved.

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