Monthly Mentor

Susan Loesl, MA, ATR-BC (October)
Susan Loesl, MA, ATR-BC has been an adaptive arts specialist/art therapist for the Milwaukee Public Schools in Milwaukee, WI for the past 26 years. She has also worked in nursing homes with developmental disabled adults, adjudicated youth in prison and with adolescent girls in a residential treatment center. Susan is an Art Therapy and Graduate Education Adjunct Faculty at Mount Mary College, Milwaukee, WI and a frequent presenter at many conferences related to persons with disabilities and adaptations for the arts. She has presented workshops and in-service training throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and in China. Susan has been a consultant for adaptive arts strategies and low-tech adaptive tools to schools and organizations across the country.



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February 01, 2014

Shadow Puppet Theater

One of the most “out of the box” teaching experiences that I have participated in is creating Shadow Puppet Theater performances.  I became very interested in this integrated approach to learning after attending a workshop at the 2012 NAEA National Convention in New York.


I started researching by purchasing books, searching online and watching videos. My husband and I built a framed screen. The first class took place during our 2012 Summer School Enrichment Program. Four classes each performed The Four Dragons separately. Last year, I worked with kindergarten teachers on Strega Nona, Zomo the Rabbit, Anansi the Spider, Tikki Tikki Tembo, and Jamie O’Rourke and the Giant Potato.

Links to SchoolTube:
Welcome to the Making of Our 2013 Shadow Puppet Theater Performances
Jamie O’Rourke and the Giant Potato
Anansi the Spider
Tikki Tikki Tembo
Strega Nona
Zomo the Rabbit
The Making of the Four Dragons
The Four Dragons
Activities after Four Dragons Shadow Puppet Theater

Presently, I am working with second grade students on a shadow puppet theater performance on Debra Frasier’s book On the Day You were Born. Debra had left a comment on my blog about the shadow puppet performances and we have set a tentative date for her to visit our school. This performance will be in honor of her visit. It will later appear on


If you would like more information on the many benefits of using Shadow Puppet Theater for integrating art and other subject areas, I wrote an article Learning the 4C’s With Shadow Puppet Theater on the

I will also be presenting Learning the 4C’s Through Shadow Puppet Theater at the NAEA National Convention in March 2014.

Students really enjoy Shadow Puppet Theater. It truly is a great learning tool. It’s something unique. It’s fun for the teacher(s) too!

-Suzanne Dionne


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I tried several times to watch the videos, but there is an error, file not found! I do shadow puppetry and other types of Puppetry at my school in Panama. Would love to touch bases with you. Thanks

Linda Scott/NAEA

Sometimes when you click play using the SchoolTube link on puppet theater, you only hear sound but do not see picture. Try clicking on the full screen box in the lower right corner (one with 4 arrows pointing inward). Once it opens full screen, you shouldn't have a problem. OR go to SchoolTube directly and enter Rotella Interdistrict Magnet School and you can see it there. Good luck!

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