I am taking a little time offline this week to spend with family and to try and kick the final symptoms of my recent illness. Fortunately, I have some great blogging friends who have offered to help me out with a series of fabulous guest posts. I hope you all enjoy this playful post by Cathy from NurtureStore.
Puppet play is a real favourite in our house. I’ve been using puppets with my daughters since they were babies and now they are five and eight it’s wonderful to see them making puppets of their own and using them in their games. I love them because they encourage so much creative play, from the original gluing and sticking to create them, to all the language and imagination that appears when they start to tell stories with them. My girls love them because they are able to make any kind of puppet their imaginations dream up and then bring them to life.
Here are some of our favourite ways to make puppets with ideas for how to use them in play.
How to make a puppet
You can of course buy puppets but creating your own gives your child a very special toy they can be proud of. Almost anything can be turned into a puppet with a little imagination, so make use of what you already have. We love to raid our recycling box for craft materials, seeing what we can use for hats and clothes. Pens and pencils are good for drawing on faces but in our house it’s stick-on googly eyes which really make a prized puppet!
Egg cartons/boxes are great for animals such as crocodiles and dragons, as they provide a ready mouth you can open up.
Lollipop sticks are versatile too, and only need one of your child’s drawings stuck to them to bring their character to life. Or use photographs of the faces of people your child loves to make unique family of puppets.
Wooden spoons or clothes pegs already have a ‘head’ on them, ready to be transformed with pens and pencils. Pieces of material, wrapping paper, wool and ribbons all make beautiful clothes
You can easily transform your child’s drawing into a finger puppet by sticking it on to cardboard and cutting out two holes near the bottom, just big enough for your child to poke their fingers through and make ‘legs’.
Gloves make practical puppets too, as they are so easy to wear.
Puppet play ideas: Bringing your puppets to life
A finger puppet on your hand is great for babies as it catches their eye and you can move it about as you sing or chat.
For toddlers, puppets provide a way to bring their favourite stories and nursery rhymes to life. They add an extra dimension to the singing or reading and act as a springboard into play. Our Incy Wincy spider puppet is always a big hit.
When preschoolers start to be interested in role playing, puppets can really come into their own and be central characters in small worlds your child creates. You could make a simple puppet theatre or add your puppets to a playscene.
Puppets are a very playful way to boost language. Whether your child is chatting to a puppet on your hand, or using two puppets themselves to have a chat, it’s almost impossible to play with puppets and not start a conversation.
I also find puppets can be a valuable resource when we’re preparing for a new situation or dealing with a transition in a child’s life. Role-playing starting preschool with some small characters lets your child test out the new experience from the safety of their own home and give new relationships a trial run before facing the real thing themselves.
Puppets can also help work on any difficulties you might be having. A puppet who needs some coaching to share toys with the other characters lets your child show the puppet a kind way to behave, encouraging the same behaviour in your child without putting a spotlight on them.
Puppet play is also portable, making it a good option when you’re out and about or heading off on holiday. It’s easy to pop a puppet in your bag or pocket and so take a playmate along on the journey with you.
For more puppet ideas
If you’re interested in trying out some puppets, you can find more ideas in our puppet archive over at NurtureStore, or in our free Glorious Junk! ebook, which includes ideas for mini-me models and balloon puppets.
Cathy James lives in the UK with her two daughters. She writes the blog NurtureStore which is packed full of creative play ideas, kids’ crafts and fun activities