Little Wombat Puppet Story
By Sandra Busch
Presented at the Vital Years Conference in Perth, 2005.
Published in Star Weavings Magazine, edition unknown.

Down in the earth where it’s dark and safe, a mother wombat tidied her burrow. She moved the bracken and soft bark which she had gathered to make a cosy bed. In her pouch a baby wombat drank her warm milk. He could feel his mother’s heart beating and he heard her gentle breathing.

The little wombat continued to grow and soon his body was covered with fur just like his mother. Now that he was bigger, he would sometimes come out of his mother’s pouch and play with the bracken and soft bark. He loved to wander along the tunnels underground and sometimes he would practice his digging: he enjoyed the sounds he made when digging.

One evening as the sun was going down behind the trees, mother wombat came out of her burrow as she usually did to look for food. While she was eating, little wombat came out of her pouch and looked around.

“What a big world I live in”, he said. He saw trees, rocks and logs.

“And this is grass,” his mother said. “You may have a mouthful too”.

The little wombat tried his first mouthful of fresh green grass. It was juicy and moist after the recent rain. Yum it was nice; he took another mouthful then climbed back into his mother’s pouch and chewed and chewed on his first taste of grass.

One day little wombat had grown so big that he couldn’t fit in his mother’s pouch any more. “You can walk with me now”, she said, and as she came out of the burrow to find food, little wombat followed.

When he was up on the surface of the earth a little wind blew towards him. “What was that?” he asked.

“That’s the wind,” his mother said. “It wants to play with you.”

Then the little wombat felt happy. The wind reminded him of his mother’s breath when she breathed in his face sometimes, and he started to run and jump and roll over. He had a lovely time.

Then he noticed his mother sniffing the rocks and logs, so he thought he should do that too. He discovered from the different smells that other animals had passed that way also. Then his mother told him about dingos and dogs and how he must always be alert to them.

A while later, when little wombat and his mother were out walking, they heard a barking noise. Mother wombat stopped, listened and sniffed the air. “Listen little wombat, that is a dog. We must hurry back to the burrow.”

The dog came running through the trees after the wombats. Run little wombat, back to the burrow. As the wombats ran they kicked up bits of dust and the little wind saw what was happening and made a whirly wind in front of the dog which slowed him down.

The wombats reached their burrow, little one in first, and then mother wombat went in and waited inside the burrow. When the barking dog came and put his head in the burrow, she ran backwards at him with her strong legs and back. “Be off with you dog. Leave my baby and me alone!” she said.

The dog yelped and pulled his nose out of the burrow. Then he ran off back to the farm where he came from.

Snuggled up next to his mother, little wombat felt proud of his mother and he thought, “When I am bigger and a dog chases me, I’ll do that too.” Outside the little wind blew and told of the little wombats’ adventure to the leaves in the tree tops.

Presentation Notes
I chose to use Nature’s toys for the puppets as these are open ended and allow room for the developing imagination.

Banksia seed pods work well for the wombats; a large one for the mother and smaller seed pods for the baby and little wombat.

The dog was a piece of wood, the gesture of a running dog. This I found in the bush. We attached string to the puppets, like we do with small string puppets.

A table was set up for the story, brown cloth and green silk for the earth’s surface and grass. Backdrop was green, representing the trees and a yellow sun going down. For the burrow, small chairs were placed in front of the table, large bedspreads were used to mould the burrow and tunnels with brown velvet over the top, representing underground. Add small rocks and pieces of logs to complete the setting.

Using Nature’s Toys as Puppets
My story rhythm goes over a three week period. First week i tell the story, second week I use the children’s toys as puppets to tell the story; after the first day an older child will help me. The third week we dramatise the story. By this time the children have a deep connection to the story and will often speak the words themselves at the appropriate time.

Over the years I have used nature’s toys as puppets. The curly shells of different sizes make good Billy Goats and a gnarly piece of wood, the troll under the bridge. Flowers make beautiful butterflies.

This Autumn our Kindergarten garden had many different varieties of Autumn leaves and they were beautiful. I felt as if they were asking me to find a way of bringing them to the children. So on the second week of Briar Rose story, I decided to try using the leaves as puppets. Two big beautiful leaves for the King and Queen, a smaller one for the princess. The cook and kitchen boy were plainer leaves and the 13th wise woman was a dark green leaf. It worked very well and brought a wonder to the story. I realise it was my gesture that was important and the leaves became ensouled with the character. I felt it was also along the lines of the knot doll, where Rudolf Steiner recommends that simplicity leaves the child free to add what they need to add, thus encouraging the developing imagination.

After that the children played with the leaves in many varied ways. A few days later a little boy ran up to me with three lovely leaves and said “Here’s some fairies for you”.

So I wanted to share the idea of using Nature’s toys as puppets at the Vital Years Conference. The little wombat story is a nature story which I wrote a few years ago. It has been printed in Star Weavings before and I did tell it at an earlier Conference, but somehow it didn’t feel quite complete. I’ve refined the story in places and by using the Banksia pods, which work very well as puppets, it now feels more complete. I also felt it was a good winter stoy, the going down into the earth. In winter the life forces are drawn down into the earth.

So I hope these thoughts might be helpful for you. Enjoy your story telling.
Sandra Busch

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