Dinosaur Petting Zoo Collage

Dear Diary,

I’m a Pittsburgher, so puppetry is in my blood. Mister Rogers and his cast of puppets, like Lady Elaine Fairchilde andAna Platypus were my neighbors. They didn’t live in the house next door per say, but they did tape the show in my city. Recently, my daughter has expressed interest in puppet shows on TV. She tunes in to Barney and Friends and even knows how to pull up the purple dinosaur on my iPad. I wondered if her excitement would transfer to a live performance. But before I take my tot to a show, I needed to know that she would leave the drama on stage.

Yesterday, I sat down with Ra Jobe, a performer for Erth’s Dinosaur Petting Zoo. The unique puppet show takes audience members on a journey through prehistoric Australia. He told me four things I needed to do to prepare my little one to see a show.

Do Your Homework

“You want to research what the show is about. Our show for example uses realistic, life-sized dinosaur puppets. They can be scary. We have a  Tyrannosaurus Rex on stage. It’s not a little marionette or even Barney. But most kids, even toddlers, love to see our show. They really buy into it. It’s easy to believe it. They take the puppeteer away from the performance, and  interact with the dinosaurs like they are real. They laugh and sometimes cry, but then they realize it’s only pretend. It’s a unique experience.”

Put on a Show in Your Living Room

“You can make a puppet out of absolutely anything (band-aids on your fingers, plates, paper bags, oven mitt, etc.) Just pick a theme and give your children the materials.They making process is really cool.  That’s where our company has been really successful, the design work. The intricate painting. Your puppet doesn’t have to look realistic. It comes from a personal level, because you decorated and finished it.”

Purchase Puppets for Presents

“I think puppets are pretty awesome toys, because they are something that you bring life to versus something that’s an inanimate object. It’s something that your children can really enjoy. Puppetry is a way of communicating without actually communicating.  Some children are a lot more forward with puppets. They use the toys to express themselves.”

Hey DFTM Fam–Have you taken your little on to a puppet show or any live performance? What tips do you have for other parents? 

If you live in Pittsburgh, you can check out Ra Jobe and his ancient animals performing at the Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival this weekend. If you’re an out-of-towner, this video is the next best thing to having a ticket.
















About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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