Lincoln Elementary School fourth graders recently showed off all their hard work in creating a Chautauqua Lake Project including music and handmade puppets. Snake, turtles, birds, butterflies and a multitude of animals danced, moved, and flew across the Lincoln School stage to the delight of the audience. The yearlong, voluntary, after school project brought together fourth grade students and teachers to create the amazing performance.
“The Chautauqua Lake Project was created by local teachers about 15 years ago,” said Lincoln teacher Lori Cobb. “The philosophy was to use watershed as the means to teach all content area for the course of a 4th grader’s study throughout the school year. As all things, funding was cut for the project. After being a part of the project for twelve years and having the privilege of working with founders Eric Bolling and his wife Debbie, who retired last year, Lynn Mayer and I felt compelled to carry on this vital program.”
Thirty-six students signed up. The group began by creating their animal puppets with paper mache, including painting them. The students also researched their animal and began writing non-fiction and fiction pieces. The group created habitats and ecosystems for the puppets by taking photos on a walking field trip during one session. Artist Renee Pye helped assemble a few of the puppets, and the stage was set for the performance. Reading some of their written pieces and then using fun music by The Who, Kings of Leon and Mobile to inspire them, students created a fantastic culminating performance.
As groups, students also learned the history of Chautauqua Lake and completed a project such as researching the history Celeron Park and the hotels on the lake from the last century. Later in the fall, the students were generously given clay to create thumb pots like the Seneca Indians created.
“This was a low-cost activity as we used recyclables to create the puppet – the total cost was about $20 but the lessons learned and the fun was priceless,” said Mrs. Cobb.