Video stories

This page provides links to videos aimed at liberal religious kids.

The Robot Videos
Video Stories for All Ages
Meet the Stuffies
Behind the scenes

N.B.: To help protect your privacy, I no longer use Youtube as a video host. Youtube is known for stealing your data, including tracking every movement of your cursor while you are on their site. I do not want to direct children to a website that steals their data! All videos are hosted on, which provides somewhat more privacy (mostly because I pay a couple hundred bucks a year to host my videos there).

The Robot Videos

Some years back, XtraNormal had a free service where you could input text, choose a character, specify gestures, and their software would create a video for you. I made two videos with short tales by or about Jesus of Nazareth. I edited the videos slightly, to tighten them up and to add some background sound.

Robot tells the story of the Rich Young Man [2012/ed. 2022]
Robot tells the story of the Empty Jar [2011/ed. 2022]

Screen grab from one of the Robot videos

The “Video Stories for All Ages” were made for the UU Church of Palo Alto (UUCPA) during the COVID-19 pandemic, from April, 2020, to April, 2022. While some of the videos are specific to UUCPA, many of them can be used as supplements in Sunday school classes or at home. For example, check out the “Possum Is Stressed” series. Other videos may serve as inspiration for programs in your congregation. For example, check out the “Stuffed Animal Sleepover” videos.

Also included: introductions to the puppets and stuffies who act in many of the videos; and behind-the-scenes photos for those who are thinking of filming their own puppet videos.

Thanks to the live actors, a.k.a. “the UUCPA gang”: Aarav, Amy, Bruce, Carol, Daisy, Dan, Ella, Emma, Francesca, Greg, Heather, John, Liam, Mayo, Sam, Sarah, Sarah, and Vani.

    Religions and Myths

    Back in Time to the Year 29 C.E.

    In the year 29 CE, some people in the land of Judea (hm, they look a lot like the UUCPA Gang) hear about a rabbi named Jesus…. [2020]

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4
    Part 5
    Part 6

    Jataka Tales

    The stuffies act out some Jataka Tales, stories that are supposed to be about the earlier lives of the Buddha. [2020-2021]

    The Monkey and the Crocodile
    The Elephant and the Dog
    The Stupid Crocodile
    The Turtle and the Geese
    The Timid Rabbit
    The Queen and the Huge Hound


    The UUCPA Gang goes back in time to find out what happened to Prometheus. [2020]

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4


    The UUCPA Gang goes back in time to ancient Egypt in the time of the Pharaohs. What’s up with this Akhenaten fellow? [2020]

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3

    December stories

    The UUCPA Gang goes back in time to see the miraculous birth of the Buddha, and then they go back in time to meet Judah Maccabbee. [2020]

    Miraculous Birth of Buddha
    The Story of Judah Maccabbee

    The Old Story of Palm Sunday and Easter

    Possum, Rolf, and Nicky want to hear about Palm Sunday and Easter. And even though Dr. Sharpie and Muds are kind of tired of those old stories, they listen, too. [2021]

    The Old Story of Palm Sunday (2021)
    The Old Story of Easter (2021)

    This year, Possum decides to tell the old story of Easter. (Pretty much the same as the 2021 Easter story video, except it’s all stuffies and puppets, and there’s no mention of any specific congregation.) [2022]

    The Easter story as told by Possum (2022)

    Tales from the Ramayana

    Rolf wants to hear stories from the Ramayana. So he and his friends decide to act out some Ramayana stories. [2021]

    Sabala the Cow, part 1
    Sabala the Cow, part 2

    The Pool of Enchantment, part 1
    The Pool of Enchantment, part 2

    Justice and social action

    Ecojustice Avenger

    Oh, no! Trashman is throwing trash around again. The UUCPA Gang ask: Where, oh, where is Ecojustice Avenger?! [2020]

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4

    Ecojustice Avenger Theme Song [2020]

    Possum Learns about Protest

    Dr. Sharpie has built a time machine, so the stuffies get to see the history of protest. (Thanks to Torin Fu for the idea.) [2021]

    Part 1: The Civil Rights Movement
    Part 2: Battle of Lexington, 1775
    Part 3: The Occupy Movement
    Part 4: Protest at Home

    UU Identity

    Stuffed Animal Sleepover

    Videos about Stuffed Animal Sleepovers at UUCPA. [2020, 2021]

    2020 Sleepover — Introduction
    2020 Sleepover — Memories

    2021 Sleepover

    Contestants on a Game Show

    The UUCPA Gang comes up with a plan to raise money for the congregation — they’ll go on game shows! It’s a great idea, until things get weird. [2020]

    Part one: “Lethargy”
    Part two: “You Bet Your Life”
    Part three: “Celebrity Family Food”
    Part four: A Parallel Universe?

    Thanksgiving with Family

    Muds and Possum have to go visit relatives for Thanksgiving. Possum is worried about what might happen…. [2021]

    Part one
    Part two
    Part three

    Springtime Stories

    The UUCPA Gang welcome springtime with dances, and the stuffies hear the Flower Communion story. [2021]

    Dances for May Day
    The Story of the Flower Communion

    UU Christmas

    Possum asks Dr. Sharpie about the meaning of Christmas. Then Possum asks some of his other housemates. Muds finally helps him find the meaning of Christmas. [2021]

    The Meaning of Christmas?

    The Pledge Drive

    Rolf and Possum want to donate to their congregation’s pledge drive. Problem is, they don’t have any money. Then Rolf comes up with an idea…. [2022]

    Possum and Rolf and the Pledge Drive

    Spiritual Practices

    Possum Feels Stressed

    Possum and the stuffies are feeling stressed out by life, so Dr. Sharpie shows them some spiritual practices that might help. [2020]

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4
    Part 5

    Possum Still Feels Stressed

    Possum has been following his chosen spiritual practice, but he’s still feeling stressed out. Sharpie offers some ideas. [2020]

    Part one
    Part two
    Part three

    The Last Video

    Now that the pandemic is endemic, it’s time to dismantle the puppet video studio so it can go back to being a child care room. But before the studio is taken down, there was time for one last video. Nearly all the stuffies make at least a cameo appearance in this video (except Booby who had to work, Hedgie who was presenting a paper at a scholarly colloquium on gender studies, and Castor who was protesting at a dam site). [2022]

    Time To Play

    Meet the Stuffies

    Meet the puppets and animals who act in many of UUCPA’s video stories-for-all-ages.


    Dr. Sharpie Ann Harper has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from CalTech, and a Ph.D. in physics from M.I.T. She currently works at CERN, where her research focuses on mathematical models for subatomic particles. She is active among a group of female scientists and engineers at CERN who organize around issues of gender equity; Sharpie brings an intersectional perspective to the group, since she is both non-human and was born in Korea, not Europe. In her spare time, she enjoys cosplay, with a particular emphasis on royal costumes. She also likes tinkering with her time machine, and participating in the wider Chronos-Maker community.

    Stuffie info: Mid-80s stuffed animal from Remco.


    Possum enjoys carousing at night and rummaging through compost piles. His big fears are owls and coyotes. He can be a messy eater. He wants to remind everyone that his name is Possum, no last name or any foolishness like that. When he was asked, “Isn’t every opossum named ‘Possum’ ?” he replied, “Yes, it’s so much easier that way.”

    Puppet info: Mid-1980s Country Critters puppet, made in the U.S.

    Mr. Bear

    Mr. Bear has been happily unmarried to Ms. Bear for a quarter of a century. He is committed to sharing equally in both chores and joys with his life partner. He enjoys salmon fishing, blueberrying, and lying in the sun. He is both wise and goofy, so the other animals enjoy going to him for advice (though if they need really serious advice, they will probably go to Ms. Bear).

    Puppet info: Early 1990s Folkmanis puppet, when they were still made in the U.S. 

    Ms. Bear

    Ms. Bear has been happily unmarried to Mr. Bear for a quarter of a century. As a feminist, she didn’t want to change her name to her partner’s name, so she is still know as Ms. Bear. She enjoys blueberrying, lying in the sun, and salmon fishing. She is both wise and kind, so the other animals enjoy going to her for advice (though if they need light-hearted advice, they will probably go to Mr. Bear).

    Puppet info: Early 1990s Folkmanis puppet, when they were still made in the U.S. 


    Born on a farm in the Swiss Alps, Rolf St. Bernadito says he was trained as a rescue dog, but then decided to join a human family in the U.S. Rolf is in training as a competitive napper, and often takes 8-10 naps in a day to stay in training. He also works part-time as a personal assistant to a freelance author. He and Sharpie share living quarters in “The Clubhouse,” and Rolf is particularly fond of joining Sharpie in their sauna.

    Puppet info: 1997 Folkmanis puppet.


    Packie Rat is a Dusky-footed Woodrat. She enjoys walks in the woods, and has a day job as an office manager. Her motto is “Take it easy.” She is in recovery from stealing shiny things, and regularly attends Packrats Anonymous (PA) meetings. She volunteers as a PA sponsor, and would be happy to talk with any packrat who is trying to fight their addiction.

    Puppet info: Recent Folkmanis puppet.


    Nicky S. Rabbit emigrated to the U.S. from Scotland. While in Scotland, she had a career working in second-hand bookstores, but since she has moved to the U.S., she has been doing office work for a small environmental nonprofit. She says her job doesn’t pay much, but she’s happy knowing that she is helping to change the world. (Update: Nicky has gone back to working in a used bookstore!)

    Puppet info: Puppet Co. puppet, purchased from Jill Purves of Scottish Puppets.


    Galahad Threepwood Hedgington “Hedgie” Hedgehog was born in the English countryside, into a lower middle class family who had lived in the same place for uncountable generations. But Hedgie dreamed of bigger things, and wanted to leave the countryside. So he went to school (which is unusual for hedgehogs). Then he won a scholarship to the London School of Economics, where he earned a graduate degree in gender studies. He now works as an independent scholar. He gives talks and writes articles about gender fluidity, the dangers of hypermasculinity, and related topics. He is also working on writing his memoirs.

    Puppet info: A handmade puppet from England, c. 1990s. Not sure how he came to the U.S.


    Castor Beaver grew up outside Boston, Massachusetts. He is a rabid Red Sox fan, and whenever there’s a game on, you’ll find him parked in front of his laptop rooting for the Sox. He belongs to several organizations that want to remove human-made dams from California rivers and streams. Castor says removing dams will help salmon, and other plants and animals. He believes that only beavers should be allowed to build dams.

    Puppet info: Handmade puppet from a Boston area craftsperson.


    Birago Lion is proud of the fact that he’s from a long line of griots, or storytellers, from Nigeria. (His parents named him in honor of the great Nigerian poet Birago Diop.) However, as a young lion cub, Birago showed no talent for storytelling. Instead he spent all his time writing computer code. So he emigrated to Silicon Valley, where he has worked for several innovative start-ups. Although he often works 12 hour days, he is also writing a book on new applications for LISP. Birago also enjoys amateur theatricals.

    Puppet info: Mid-1980s Gund puppet.


    Muds Turkle lived in small-town America for most of their life, but recently moved to the Bay Area. They are working as a lab assistant for a Stanford researcher who is studying the creatures who live in the mud of San Francisco Bay, a job they feel they are especially well-qualified for. Muds’s hobby is doing oral history, especially recording the stories of the older generation of transgender turtles who live in the Bay area.

    Puppet info: Recent Folkmanis puppet.


    Booby the Blue-Footed Booby comes from South America, where she was a pilot for a small regional airline. Worried about how air travel is making global climate change worse, she decided to move to the U.S. and start a new career as a life coach. She currently has clients around the Pacific Rim, whom she meets with via videoconferencing software (no more air travel for Booby!), and she’s a member of the Asian Pacific Alliance of Coaches (APAC). She is not accepting new clients at this time, but will put you on a waiting list.

    Stuffie info: Handmade on the Galapagos Islands. Not sure how she got to the U.S.


    Edgar Raven grew up near Philadelphia, but even as a nestling he knew he wanted to come to the San Francisco area. He studied art at the California College of the Arts in Oakland, and now is a member of the Eco-Maker Space in Alameda. He specializes in earthwork sculpture (like Andy Goldsworthy). He thanks his grandparents for leaving him a trust fund which allows him to pursue his art career.

    Puppet info: Recent Folkmanis puppet.


    Nanas grew up in Assam, India. As a young monkey, she got to know the Unitarians of the Khasi Hills, so when she emigrated to the U.S. she found a Unitarian Universalist congregation to join. That’s how she wound up living with Sharpie, Rolf, Possum, and the rest of the gang. During the pandemic, Nanas started doing yoga. But her real passion is eating bananas. Her best friend is Elephant.

    Puppet info: Recent Folkmanis puppet.


    Elephant grew up in a zoo in the U.S. When he was middle-aged, he began attending a Unitarian Universalist church in Massachusetts, where his friends in the congregation helped him leave the zoo life and become an independent elephant. He met Sharpie while both of them were acting in a community theatre production. Sharpie invited him to move in to their group house, where he quickly became best friends with Nanas.

    Stuffie info: 1990s vintage Nanco stuffed animal.


    Albert Edwin “Al E. Gator” Gator grew up in the Everglades in Florida. Al became a vegetarian because he’s worried about global climate change and sea level rise, which threatens the Everglades. He’s also concerned about toxic pollution in the water, including plastics of course, but especially PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) which threaten animals everywhere. 

    Puppet info: Recent Folkmanis puppet.


    Belinda Sheep has been a farmworker all her life. Cesar Chavez is one of her heroes, and she has helped other farm sheep organize for better working conditions. She currently works on a small cooperative wool farm with several other sheep. Now that her own children have grown up, she volunteers with after-school programs for lambs and other young animals. 

    Stuffie info: We don’t know where Belinda came from, but she looks hand-made.

    Behind the scenes

    When we were filming, the puppeteers mostly watched the action on the computer screen. Sometimes looking at the screen was disorienting and we had to look up at the puppets. We taped the script to the back of the puppet stage at our eye level. Puppets who were not in the current scene would lie on the table next to us (you can see Possum in the lower left corner of the photo.)

    This is what the camera saw when the zoom was set to the widest angle:

    A wider view, from behind the camera. We sometimes had up to seven lights aimed at the stage. Props were laid out on the table to the left of the puppet stage. When not needed in the current scene, the puppets stayed in cloth bags to keep them clean and lint-free (you can see Rolf’s head poking out of the dark blue bag in the lower right corner of the photo).