If you’ve grown up watching Sesame Street or attending local fairs with puppet shows, you know just how engaging and fun puppets can be. But there’s a chance that your child may not know much about these floppy friends.
With the number of cartoons, toys, and games available today, it's easy to wonder if puppets are important, helpful, or even relevant for kids anymore.
But puppets are neither outdated nor just entertainment. A puppet can be a useful tool to spark imagination, educate your child, have difficult conversations with them, and even hone their fine motor skills!
Let’s look at some of the benefits of puppet play, how you can get comfortable with puppets, and the ways you can use them to play with and teach your little one.
How will puppet play benefit your child?
1. Social and emotional development - A friendly puppet is the perfect teacher and playmate for a child. Interacting with these adorable playmates will teach your child social skills and listening and relating to puppets as they tell stories will develop their empathy and emotional intelligence.
2. Encourages imagination and creative thinking - A fuzzy puppet with a green head or a talking monkey is sure to spark your little one’s imagination! Having a conversation with or as a puppet and coming up with new pretend play games will keep their creative thinking alive.
3. Hones fine motor skills - Using the palm for hand puppets and fingers for finger puppets will sharpen your child’s hand-eye coordination and tune their fine motor skills.
4. Improves language and communication - Watching a puppet talk is exciting for a child and will hold their attention. This is an easy way to get them to pick up words, enunciate clearly, and learn grammar.
5. Practice listening - Hearing a story from a puppet is an exciting affair and a child knows that they have to listen carefully when the puppet speaks. This will help them focus, concentrate, and get better at listening.
6. Builds confidence - Being a puppet master, talking using puppets, or playing with them are all wonderful ways to roleplay. Such stress-free play in an open environment will make even the most shy children feel confident to express themselves.
Different ways to enjoy puppets
Who says puppets need to be expensive? You can make your own easy sock puppet right at home! Making their own puppets is a great way for children to get creative, express their individuality, and even have a special bond with their puppet friend from the get go. This could also be a fantastic way to spend some quality time with your child. Watch this easy step-by-step DIY sock puppet tutorial to make your own puppet friend!
Tell stories with puppets
Who doesn’t love listening to stories told by a cute puppet? You could read a book using a hand-puppet, have scheduled story time with your child’s puppet friends, or even get them to join the fun! If you have a few puppets, you could give one to every member in the family and ask them to complete the story as you go along.
Liven up your classes at home by using a puppet! From simple math to grammar and language, puppets make everything a whole lot more fun. They’re also a great medium to use while having difficult conversations with children, like that of body safety. For younger children, a conversation with a puppet can also feel more accessible and give them a safe space to share and process their big feelings.
Puppet pretend play
Puppets can double as plush toys for pretend play. Children can take on the roles of distinct characters and play out all sorts of stories. Add in a few props and they can come up with a different tale each time! You can roar like a tiger, swing across trees like monkeys, and splash around water and land like a crocodile with shumee’s set of felt finger puppets!
Have a puppet sing-a-long
Puppets are famously used to sing, dance, and bring in the party for children. So use the puppets to make rhymes, sing their favourite songs, and have a gala time! You could even use songs to teach your child numbers, alphabets, and simple words.
Host a puppet show
Does your little one enjoy performing for the family? Then a puppet show may just be the thing for them! You could help them read from one of their favourite books and roleplay the characters. Slightly older children can even come up with their own stories or put on a musical!
Getting comfortable with puppets
Using puppets may be new to some parents, but you will easily find your groove once you begin! Simple tricks like modulating your voice for different characters, creating little quirks for each puppet, and talking to the hand or finger puppet as though it is separate from you could go a long way in bringing them to life.
Remember that for children, puppets are a source of endless joy and wonder. So let your child be a part of the process. They will have tons of questions and answering them will help you further these characters. Over time, you will get to see your child play, learn, and grow with this simple toy.