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Folkmanis® Puppets in the Community

Folkmanis, Inc., believes that toys and puppets are crucial for a healthy childhood and development.

Folkmanis donates puppets around the world, to be distributed among refugees, orphans and social workers. Domestically, Folkmanis is a regular benefactor to various children’s welfare organizations: K.I.D.S., Kids Wish Network, Lekotek, Blind Babies Foundation, Indian Reservations, Children’s Hospitals, Hospices and Shelters, Libraries, Schools, Zoos, Museums, and Wildlife Welfare Organizations.

To read about some of the organizations to which Folkmanis has donated puppets, click on the links to the left.

From the Ellicot Wildlife Rehab Center            GUESS Science Fair

Amador County State Preschool Program

         Click here for a video

In a letter to Folkmanis, Physical Education Consultant, Natalie Ostergaard explains how she uses our puppets to teach preschool physical education.

Every "Body" Needs P.E. is an early education fitness and nutrition program designed by Natalie Ostergaard specifically for preschool and Kindergarten age children. The program is made possible through a generous grant from First Five of Amador. It encompasses eight different state, county and private preschools in rural Northern California throughout the school year.

Lesson plans featuring Folkmanis puppets are an all-time favorite. Teachers love the puppet details - their lifelike appearance and maneuverability; plus the textures are amazing. Educators are able to easily tie these puppets to nocturnal animal themes as well as ocean, forest, or desert exploration lessons. Alphabet-animal matching games are always a hit.

The young child experience pure fun involving all of their sense. They delight in the pretend world of animal movements and imaginative play. Whether using whole body movements for the bear walk, doing a crazy wiggle, happy dog dance for the beagle, isolating abdominal muscles while mimicking a sea otter, or perfecting fine motor skills manipulating a lady bug or spotted owl finger puppet - KIDS ARE MOVING AND LEARNING!

Folkmanis puppets blend especially well with a yoga unit. By bringing puppets to the session, students can identify animals and describe the movements that make them unique. Children relate to the Border Collie while holding the "downward facing dog" pose. They stretch their neck, torso and back muscles while in "lion and turtle" formation. Caterpillars can develop into beautiful, flowing swallowtail butterflies and finger puppets can rest on a child's abdomen to prefect "belly breathing."

Thank you Folkmanis (and Roxi Price) for making my job a joy!

In Health,
Natalie Ostergaard, Physical education Consultant

Assistance Dogs of America, Inc. - Swanton, Ohio

Kids Learning Place Folkmanis donated some puppets to Assistance Dogs of America, Inc.’s fundraising event, Dealin’ for Dogs. Assistance Dogs of America, Inc., (ADAI) helps children and adults with disabilities achieve greater independence by training and placing service and therapy dogs to assist with the individual's daily needs. For over 20 years, ADAI assistance dogs have helped transform the lives of over 150 individuals and their communities. From children with muscular dystrophy and spina bifada to adults with cerebral palsy and spinal cord injuries, ADAI service dogs provide their owners with self-reliance, self confidence and self-esteem, and most importantly, a chance to live their lives to the fullest potential. ADAI therapy dogs, equally highly trained, offer comfort and companionship to children in schools, persons in nursing homes and individuals with developmental disabilities, autism and Down’s Syndrome.

In recent years, ADAI has launched a number of innovative new programs, including the Prison Puppy Program. Inmates at the Toledo Correctional Institution and Cleveland's Northeast Pre-Release Center learn about responsibility by raising and training puppies for ADAI.

Dontated Dog Puppets      Participants in the ADAI Fundraiser

The Lindsay Wildlife Museum - Walnut Creek, CA

The Lindsay Wildlife Museum rehabilitates injured and orphaned wildlife for release back into the wild. Volunteer Barbara Crowe uses our Raven puppet to comfort orphaned baby crows. She said that their survival rate was much higher when they were allowed to cuddle next to our puppet.

Pet Orphans of Southern California

Pet Orphans

Since 1973, Pet Orphans of Southern California, a private non-profit animal shelter, has been rescuing homeless dogs and cats and placing them into new loving homes.

In addition to their rescue efforts, Pet Orphans Humane Education program encourages kindness, empathy and a respect for all living things. Their program reaches approximately 20,000 people per year, and consists of five different age-appropriate presentations, which are informative, fun and interactive. They teach responsible pet ownership, including spaying and neutering, the importance of regular medical care, and a lifetime commitment to that animal. Pet Orphans Also, since dog bites are the number one reason children under twelve visit the emergency room, the program teaches animal safety and dog bite prevention. The realistic Folkmanis puppets are instrumental in helping to teach the children how and when to safely approach a dog. The Golden Retriever puppet (Sebastian) and his German Shepherd partner (Zoe) let the children practice what they’ve learned. Sebastian and Zoe are truly loved by the students and receive a great deal of fan mail. The Humane Education program has received rave reviews from teachers, administrators, and local officials in the Los Angeles area. But the greatest compliment of all is seeing the smiling and attentive faces of the children when they “meet” and “practice” with their puppet teachers.

Pet Orphans of Southern California is located in Van Nuys, California. If you’d like more information about the program, please visit their website at www.petorphans.org and click on the Humane Education section.

The Brevard Zoo - Melbourne, Florida

Pet Orphans

The Brevard Zoo in Melbourne Florida is committed to conservation and research projects throughout the globe. As a part of their commitment, the Brevard Zoo has developed sixteen environmental teaching suitcases for a wide variety of projects, see list below. The suitcases are used in community schools, villages and wildlife sanctuaries. The puppets created by Folkmanis are an integral part of each suitcase. Currently the Brevard Zoo is creating three additional suitcases for ape sanctuaries in Africa. 

Environmental Education Suitcases Developed for In Situ Projects:

  • Kakamega Environmental Education Program: Kenya
  • Forestry Project: Dominica
  • Cheetah Conservation Fund: Namibia, Botswana, Kenya
  • Club Ebobo: Republic of Congo
  • Limbe Wildlife Centre: Cameroon
  • CERCOPAN Primate Center: Nigeria
  • Lolo ya Bonobo Sanctuary: Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Sea Turtle Preservation Society: Brevard County Florida
  • USFWS/Carr Refuge: Florida
  • Peruvian Centre for Cetacean Research: Peru
  • Snare Removal Project: Zimbabwe


For further information see: www.brevardzoo.org or www.colszoo.org.

Kids Learning Place - Dayton, Ohio

Kids Learning Place

On February 29, 2008, members of the University of Dayton’s Pershing Rifles, a national military fraternity, visited the preschool classrooms at Kids Learning Place in Fairborn Ohio. They came to help out with a RIF (Reading is Fundamental) distribution. Children at Kid’s Learning Place receive free books from RIF five times a year. The cadets read books and put on a puppet show for the children, using puppets donated by Folkmanis® Puppets. After reading to the group, they helped the children select their own RIF books and then read to the children individually.

Bristol Link with Nicaragua

After donating a bag of puppets to the Bristol Twinnings International Association, Project Co-ordinator Alix Hughes wrote us this letter in thanks.

Hi Folkmanis folks - greetings from Bristol, England.

One of your colleagues at your HQ in San Francisco kindly donated a large sack of brilliant puppets to our volunteer Clodagh Miskelly when she visited you as part of her attending a conference on storytelling and puppetry in California. We requested the puppets to help us with our health and environmental education work in our sister city in Nicaragua, Central America. The puppets were taken to Nicaragua from Bristol by our development worker Gioconda Perez when she was in Bristol in March.

In the small town of Tonala (about 9,000 pop) in north-west Nicaragua, where people live from the banana plantations, subsistence agriculture or shrimp farming around the "Real Estuary", Gioconda handed the puppets over to the childrens theatre workshop. This group is also supported by Plan International Nicaragua who pay the small salary for the drama teacher Narcisco. They agreed to begin work on a puppet play with a strong environmental message. They also agreed to give us reports of their work as it progresses. Over the weeks we have received photos of their rehearsals after school at T.E Kint secondary school. The group asked us and another UK based charity to fund a trip to the city of Leon (regional capital) to give a series of performances in the three poorest primary schools there as well as a museum and culture centre visit. This was organised by Gioconda, who lives in Leon and who also works for the Utrecht (Holland)-Leon Sister City organisation.

The attached photos are of the group outside Leon cathedral and also the final dress rehearsal in Tonala before the trip which takes up to 5 hours because the roads are so bad.

Once again many thanks to you and your colleagues for your support.

Alix Hughes
BITA Co-ordinator Bristol Link with Nicaragua executive committee


Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center - Colorado Springs, CO

Folkmanis donated puppets to the Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (www.ellicottwildlife.com) for use in their wildlife and raptor community education programs. Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center provides compassionate care to sick, injured, and orphaned wild birds and small mammals for the purposes of release and education. Director Donna Ralph sent us some photos and wrote this thank-you letter to Folkmanis staffer Wendy Morton.


G.U.E.S.S Homeschool Science Fair - May 2008

Folkmanis donated puppets to the G.U.E.S.S. (Get Up and Explore Science Spectacular) Homeschool Science Fair to use as prizes. Project leader Lydia Netzer was kind enough to write an update and thank-you to Elaine Kollias, Folkmanis' Marketing Director. She also send along some fabulous photos of the kids with their projects and the puppet prizes.

Dear Elaine,

The science fair was Monday afternoon and it was great! Everything about the fair exceeded our expectations, from the attendance to the quality of the experiments to the enthusiasm and excitement of the students. One of our organizers was interviewed on WNIS, our local talk radio channel, and the response from the community was amazing. Thank you so much for making this all possible. Dr. Gail Dodge, the chair of the physics department at Old Dominion University, was our lead judge. She was amazed and impressed by the children’s ability to clearly articulate their ideas, their independence and investment in their projects, and their confidence in presenting their work.

Your puppets provided the following awards:

  • The Louis Pasteur Award for Kindness to Sheep
  • The Owl Award for Nocturnal Studies
  • The Ostrich Award for Alert Research
  • The Red Fox Award for Colorful Work
  • The Fawn Award for Fearless Research
  • The Little Pink Noses Award (Sadie’s bunny!)
  • The Grey Squirrel Award for Tireless Data Collection
  • The Flying Squirrel Award for Unusual Thinking
  • The AHA Prize for Surprising Results (the giftbox puppy and kitten)

The children were BEYOND DELIGHTED!!! I have more pictures on the way of the specific children with their specific awards. I printed out certificates to go with each one.

Thank you again for all your help. You’ve done a great thing for these children in making this event possible, and we’re very thankful.

Lydia Netzer