Cranes took flight in an elementary school classroom, but these birds were controlled by kindergartners.
A master puppeteer company, Ibex Puppetry, with a close family connection to Kermit the frog visited Minden East Elementary School Tuesday. The daughter of Muppets founder Jim Hensen started Ibex and travels the nation keeping the love of puppetry alive.
"Who wants to learn to make a puppet today?" Ibex Director of Education and Community Outreach Megan Boye asked students. They weren't just any puppets but, cranes -- whooping cranes.
"We have these beautiful puppet kits designed by John Kennedy -- who is a puppeteer with Sesame Street as well as other shows -- where you can take an ordinary piece of paper and end up folding it into a beautiful whooping crane," she said.
These kids are no strangers to the great migration with millions of cranes flocking to the area each year, but their teachers want to make sure they take advantage of the opportunity.
"We are teaching in kindergarten to put down the games and turn off the videos so that they can look out the window when they're driving through Kearney because there are so much to see out there," said kindergarten teacher Jill Woodward.
The kindergartners learned different behaviors of cranes and what it takes to migrate. "A little bit of eating in Canada and along the way through Nebraska all the way down to Texas and a little bit of crane dances and some flying," explained Boye.
All the learning happened while the students became masters at the art of puppetry, teaching them a new lesson and making it fun.
"It was really fun to see all the kids go through that process of taking a normal object and turning it into a character that they get to adventure with," said Boye.
For some, the adventure is just about to take off with "Puppeteer" named as a popular career choice by the kindergartners as they ran out to recess.
Ibex Puppetry is performing March 29 at 3 and 7 p.m. at the Merryman Theatre in Kearney. They are performing "Flight: A Crane Story". Guests planning to attend are encouraged to arrive early to make a puppet.