Handing over a hand puppet or two to your child opens up a world of imaginative and open-ended play. Puppet play is a sub-set of pretend play (a type of play young children are naturally drawn to) and, like dolls, puppets have been something children have been playing with for a long, long time. For a toy to have that kind of staying power they must be very special. In fact, puppets engage and entertain children in such a way that kidlets are having FUN all the while several key areas of development are being addressed!
Puppet Play, Language & Literacy Development:
●Children can use their imaginations to create their own stories OR retell a story using puppets to recite story lines. Their ‘voice’ is expanded with characters that can sing, speak in rhyme OR foreign language, laugh, whisper or cry.
●Puppets are available and ready friends, giving children a chance to develop their speaking as well as listening skills.
Puppet Play and Cognitive Development:
●In puppet plays, many components related to cognitive development are addressed—as mentioned above, their imaginations and creativity are used in creating their own storylines or altering existing stories in some way.
●In retelling a story, a child’s memory is developed and improved as they need to be able to keep the timeline or the sequence of events in the correct order and keep track of various characters.
●Stories involve a beginning, middle and an end with some kind of ‘problem’ that needs solving; hence children’s problem-solving skills are developed.
Puppet Play and Social & Emotional Development:
●Assuming the role of a puppet lets children ‘adopt’ new personalities—exploring different facets gives them insights to their own personality.
●With a powerful puppet on a child’s hand it’s easier to project the strength of that puppet and speak out which can be a huge asset to more timid or reserved children.
●Puppets are perfect for working out feelings—whether they’re frustrations, anxiety, or fears—in an appropriate way. Some role playing with puppets may require an adult to help process the needed steps to be taken; for example, role playing for a situation involving bullying.
Puppet Play and Physical Development:
●Manipulating hand puppets and finger puppets develop fine motor skills; larger puppets like marionettes require more gross motor skills as well, but even using stick, sock or paper bag puppets require a certain amount of stamina in the working arm.
●A puppet theatre is NOT mandatory for putting on a puppet show. However, sometimes having some type of screen or barrier can make a reluctant performer loosen up and enjoy themselves. Puppet theatres do not have to be elaborate–you can create a puppet theatre using sheets or turning over a table…and doing either of those would require using large muscle groups.
Planning a puppet show can be a lot of fun…for the whole family! Just be sure to let your kidlets lead the way and soon they’ll see their artistic inspirations come to life!
Yours in Play!