Puppet Playhouse Opens to Rave Reviews!

Posted On April 1, 2016 By | No Comments on Puppet Playhouse Opens to Rave Reviews!

It’s time to play the music! It’s time to light the lights! It’s time to meet the Puppets at the Puppet Show tonight!

COTS’s new Puppet Playhouse!

COTS’s new Puppet Playhouse!


While the children in shelter (and many of our younger staff) aren’t old enough to remember the original “Muppet Show,” we can still relate to the hours spent as children with imaginary play, creating courageous heroes and vile villains.

Now, thanks to the generous support of our community, children at the COTS Main Street Family Shelter are creating their own productions for our new Puppet Playhouse Theater.

The project is the result of collaborations and partnerships that began last fall when COTS began small-scale renovations to our Main Street Family Shelter play space. To get started, COTS received help and support from the Vermont Children’s Trust Foundation and Child Care Resource Center.

The goal: Create an inviting play space that inspired imaginative play, encouraged positive social interactions, and promoted intellectual and emotional development. Oh, and to have some fun, too!

COTS decided a Puppet Playhouse Theater would be the perfect way to achieve this.

We reached out to the Burlington School District for help with this puppet playhouse endeavor. Edmunds Middle School Design and Technology class enthusiastically answered our call to action!

Eric Schoembs, instructor of Design and technology course at Edmunds Middle

Eric Schoembs, instructor of Design and technology course at Edmunds Middle

Eric Schoembs, the Design and Technology teacher, created a competition among his students to select the winning puppet theater design. The process was a win-win for all involved: The students were able to put their knowledge and skills to work, learn about the issue of family homelessness, and complete a community service project that benefited COTS. For the competition, the students drafted architectural drawings, summarized the factors they considered, and submitted their design proposals to COTS. COTS staff then selected the design created by eight-grader Amelia Mason.

Curtis Lumber and Able Paint, Glass, and Flooring then donated the supplies for the students, together as a class, to construct Amelia’s design. Many students even devoted their study periods and after-school time to finishing the project. “My students understand a child’s play space is something special, and for many kids, it represents a place of freedom and security,” Mr. Schoembs said.

Town Meeting COTS RepLast month, the Puppet Playhouse was completed and delivered to the Main Street Family Shelter. To thank all Mr. Schoembs and his students, COTS attended a Town Meeting at the Edmunds Middle School, where COTS shared heartfelt appreciation from both COTS staff and family shelter guests.

The Playhouse has already hosted several puppet shows. And, in the world of make believe, the theater has also served as a pizza parlor and a lemonade stand.

Written by Ethan Garhartt, a University of Vermont graduate student and COTS intern.


Having mediums to engage in imaginative play has profound effects on a child’s development.  Children can use this time to ponder the future. For example, they can ask questions like: What will I be when I grow up?

Imaginative play fosters positive social development with peers, which can translate into health social behavior in the future.

COTS representative testing out the new puppets and puppet playhouse!

COTS representative testing out the new puppets and puppet playhouse!

Additionally, imaginative play promotes the development of language skills, helping children learn how to consider events and people from the perspective of others.

And, imaginative play also has been linked to the development of self-regulation tactics, the capacity to delay gratification, civility, and empathy in children.

Categories: Advocacy, Children, Community Partner, COTS Shelters, Donations, Education, Events, Families
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