Stream Life – Puppet Show

The Net Result

Characters: Ellie, Dad, Maisie Mayfly nymph, Steven Stonefly nymph, Justin Case caddisfly larva.

Props: large magnifying lens; coat hanger, scrub brush, bottlebrush or round hair brush.

Ellie  Hey, Dad. Is it okay if I stay here while you fish? I want to look for a special rock to take home. I’ve got my magnifying lens with me. (hold up lens) See?

Dad  Okay, but I’m going to move upstream where your splashing won’t scare all the fish away! (exits)

Ellie  Thanks, Dad. Oh, here’s a nice rock. Hey, there’s something wiggling on it!

Maisie Mayfly  Mayday! Mayday! Help! Help!

Ellie  Why, who are you, and what’s the matter?

Mayfly  I’m Maisie Mayfly, and I’m beached! Out of water! On dry land! Help, help, mayday!

Ellie  If you’re a fly, why don’t you just fly away?

Mayfly  Do I look like I have wings?

Ellie  Hmm…three tails, legs…but no wings. How come you’re called a fly, if you can’t fly?

Mayfly  I don’t have wings yet. I’m like you – still a kid. I’m called a nymph at this stage. I hope you’ll put me back. I’ve still got some growing to do and that means eating.

Ellie  Well, what do you like to eat? I’ve got part of my sandwich left!

Mayfly  Oh, no thanks, unless it’s got some algae growing on it. You see, I eat algae that I scrape off rocks. I’m a scraper-feeder. 

Ellie  Then I’d better put you back in the stream. Gee, the current’s awfully fast here. Won’t you get washed away?

Mayfly  Me? No, I can just hold onto the rocks. Here, I’ll hold up my foot and you’ll see why! (exit, hold up coat hanger behind lens)

Ellie  Wow, a hook! You hold on with hooks!

Mayfly  (put down coat hanger, reenter) That’s right – you get the point! Now, how about putting me back so I can scrape up some lunch?

Ellie  Okay. Here you go. Bye, Maisie. (Mayfly exits) Let’s see, here’s another special rock, under that bunch of dead leaves…huh! What’s that wiggling in the leaves?

Steven Stonefly  Put me back, put me back!

Ellie  Another mayfly nymph? No wait, you’ve only got two tails.

Stonefly  I’m not a mayfly. I’m a stonefly nymph. Steven Stonefly at your service.

Ellie  A stonefly? Do you live on stones too?

Stonefly  On, under, or in between. If you’re looking for a stonefly, leave no stone unturned!

Ellie  But I found you in this pile of dead leaves.

Stonefly  That pile of leaves was my lunch!  I eat the leaves that fall into the stream – shred them up like a paper shredder!

Ellie  Do all stoneflies eat dead leaves?

Stonefly  Not all. Some are predators, but Giant Stoneflies like me, we’re shredders. Pretty important work, you know.

Ellie  It is?

Stonefly  Well, if we didn’t shred ’em, the stream would get all clogged up. Besides, there’d be nothing for the smaller critters to eat.

Ellie  Oh, I get it. Shredders chew the leaves into tiny pieces that smaller insects can eat.

Stonefly  That’s right. Glad I could shred some light on the subject. Now I’d like to go back in the stream to get some air.

Ellie  Air? In the water?

Stonefly  Sure! Water has air in it, especially cold, fast water. I have something special that helps me breathe, under my legs here. Take a look. (exit, hold up scrub brush behind lens).

Ellie  A brush? How does that help?

Stonefly (put down brush, reenter) Not a brush – gills! They help me get air out of the water, just like a fish’s gills. Now, please put me back – someplace where the rocks are churning up the water.

Ellie  The rocks are churning up the water?

Stonefly  Sure. Whenever the water tumbles over a rock, some air gets mixed in.

Ellie  Oh. Well, here’s a nice churned-up place. Bye-bye, Stonefly. (Stonefly exits) Hey look, there’s something glued to my rock – a tiny case made of twigs.

Caddisfly  This case is my home, so when you’re done casing out the joint, please put me back in the stream!

Ellie  Oh, are you a kind of snail?

Caddisfly   No, I’m not a snail! I’m a case-builder, a caddisfly larva. My name’s Justin, Justin Case.

Ellie  Did you build this little tube?

Caddisfly  Sure! It keeps me safe from predators. And we glue our cases to rocks so the current can’t wash us away.

Ellie Then how do you go looking for food?

Caddisfly  Oh, we don’t look for food. We’re collectors. We just collect the food that floats our way – bits of shredded leaves, tiny plants and animals. My legs are great for catching food. Here, take a look. (exit, hold up bottlebrush behind lens)

Ellie  Wow! Your leg’s like a bottlebrush!

Caddisfly  (reenters) Right! Food gets caught in the bristles and I lick it off. It’s a fringe benefit.

Ellie  Will you have wings someday?

Caddisfly  Sure! I’ll be a flying insect, if I don’t get eaten first.

Ellie  Well, I’m going to put you and this special rock right back in the stream. So long, caddisfly. (caddisfly exits, lens down)  Oh, hi, Dad.

Dad  Hi, Ellie. Where’s your special rock?

Ellie  Well, it was so special I put it back. It’s an important part of the stream ecosystem, you know.

Dad  A rock?

Ellie  Of course! It makes the water tumble and mixes in air.

Dad  That’s important for trout. They need cold, bubbly water.

Ellie  And insects too. This rock’s a place where young insects can hang on and get air and food and have a safe place to grow up.

Dad  Now, how’d you learn about all that?

Ellie  Oh, you know, some little bugs told me!


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