What If Puppets Digital Educational Series

‘In the Workshop’ presented by What If Puppets (formerly Paul Mesner Puppets)

March 27, 2023 - April 14, 2023 | 45-minute live performance (during dates listed) and asynchronous digital resource

K to 2nd grade | Program cost: $750 per classroom


It’s imaginative, it’s interactive, it’s for everyone and it’s out of this world!


Aliens have invaded the workshop, and it’s up to you to help save the day! “In the Workshop” inspires youth to use their imagination to become a space cadet, traveling through space and time. But this challenge must be met with a set of skills; space cadets must learn ways to focus their minds and bodies and use their senses to help keep themselves safe. “In the Workshop” is much more than just a puppet show or workshop; it’s imaginative, it’s interactive, it's for everyone and it’s out of this world! Classrooms who receive this program will also enjoy access to the "In the Workshop" educator resource that includes eight digital episodes, activity sheets, and lesson plans.

Over the past three decades, What If Puppets has captivated nearly 2 million people through its productions and educational programming. Audiences delight in the craftsmanship of the puppets, which range from glove puppets to marionettes to innovative shadow and object-based puppetry. MPT uses humor and heart to present stories that connect to the complex social-emotional experiences of young audiences.

They hold the distinction of receiving three Union Internationale de la Marionette (UNIMA-USA) Citations of Excellence. The UNIMA-USA award was created by Jim Henson to promote high quality puppetry in the U.S. and is considered the “Academy Award” of puppetry.

In 2020, as the arts world was rocked by closures due to COVID-19, the leadership seized the opportunity to research and develop a strategic vision. A community-needs assessment was conducted, revealing the need for learning-through-play and arts integration strategies to support the social-emotional development of children ages 0-8. There was also a clear call for innovative ways to access professional arts as a form of family engagement, particularly for the very young.

In response to those findings, the board revised the mission statement in 2021: “To inspire play and cultivate connections through puppetry.” The staff restructured programs to achieve the company’s new vision: “A Kansas City community that celebrates the arts as essential for early childhood development through a company that is nationally recognized as a leader in puppetry and arts integration.” 

Energized by the company’s vision, they now move forward to fulfill their mission as “What If Puppets,” inviting audiences to play with them and discover how puppetry and the arts contribute to community.

Educator Resources

With purchase, educators receive:

  • Eight 12-minute web episodes that are the "hook" for each lesson, with the following learning ties:
    • Episodes 1 and 2: Identifying emotions (happy, frustrated), asking for help, collaboration, body control, safety
    • Episodes 3 and 4: Identifying emotions (fear), separation anxiety, overactive imagination
    • Episodes 5 and 6: Identifying emotions (anger, jealousy), interpersonal relationships (taking turns, sharing, losing)
    • Episodes 7 and 8: Identifying emotions (sad, disappointment), exploring loss, finding hope
  • Arts-integrated lesson plans inspired by episodes
  • Printable activity sheets connected to lesson plans
  • Arts integration demo videos
  • Librarian-curated reading lists

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Photo: Courtesy of Travis Young @ Austin Walsh Studios