The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Puppet- and Robot-Making Workshops a Scream at Queens Cemetery

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | March 27, 2013 9:24am

QUEENS — It'll be a scary good time.

A Queens cemetery that doubles as a cultural institution is undertaking a special series of workshops for kids in April, teaching them how to build puppets and remote controlled robots from scratch.

The classes — 'Pupp-Pet' workshop and 'Build-A-Bot' — are designed for kids ages 8 to 12 and they will take place at Maple Grove, a Victorian cemetery in Kew Gardens which has been a burial site since 1875.

For the puppet workshop, kids will be cutting up their old stuffed animals and toys and turning them into "puppet pets" that will live in carriers made out of shoe boxes.

And in the robot class, they'll learn how to turn a cereal box into a remote-controlled robot, organizers said.

The workshops are the brainchild of two Kew Gardens residents: Ido Tuchman, a patent lawyer, and David Stein, a children’s books author and illustrator, whose works include “Interrupting Chicken.”

“Both of them have families with young kids and they like to give back to the neighborhood,” said Carl Ballenas, president of the Friends of Maple Grove and a history teacher at the Immaculate Conception School in Jamaica Estates.

Ballenas said the workshops aim to use children’s creativity and to show them how to build something interesting from a few simple elements.

“They will make a little ‘pupp-pet’, a pet you can carry in your bag, and learn how to build robots,” said Ballenas.

Most of the workshops at Maple Grove are designed to honor people who are buried there. “We always like to make that historical connection,” Ballenas said.

The robot workshop will be held in honor of Charles Manly, who was an aviation engine engineer, and the puppet class is dedicated to Shannon Tavarez, a young actress who played the role of Nala in "The Lion King" on Broadway. Tavarez died of leukemia at the age of 11.

Kids will be required to bring some materials with them.

For the puppet workshop, they should bring a couple of old, colorful socks, scissors, stuffed animals and to cut up, and a shoe box or another kind of container that will be transformed into a “pet carrier."

For the robot workshop kids should bring a small Phillips screwdriver, a cutting board, sharp scissors and an empty box of their favorite cereal.

The Pupp-Pet workshop will be held on Saturday, April 13, and the Build-A-Bot workshop is scheduled for April 20. Each workshop costs $10 per child. To get more info, go here.

The Center at Maple Grove Cemetery is located at 127-15 Kew Gardens Road in Kew Gardens.