Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fun With Puppets

Encourage Imagination with Puppetry

Puppets are the children’s toy that has truly lasted the test of time. Evidence of puppets has been found in a variety of civilizations all through the ages. They are a very simple multifunctional toy with many great benefits for a Childs learning and development. The benefits include encouraging imaginative play, role playing, developing language skills, expression through externalisation and best of all they are just great fun

Here are some ideas for different ways in which you can use puppets with your child:

1. Storytelling – act out the story with puppets or have the puppet
Read the story to the child. Bigger children can alternatively read the story to the puppet or simply tell their interpretation of the story to the puppet

2. Playdate – Plan a date and time for the puppet to arrive for a
Playdate and let your child know. Make sure to follow through with all the little details like having the puppet ring the front door bell and letting your child answer. Have specified rules like a normal playdate, puppet can only stay for an hour etc. This requires the most planning and time needs to be set aside just for that specific child – puppets full attention is required.

3. Lead and Follow – let the child lead in play by showing the
Puppet how the world functions. This is a great way for you to explore your Childs interpretation of many things? Ask a lot of why? Questions, Yes those ones that drive you Mad. You will be amazed at how much your child knows that they otherwise never express.

4. Role Playing – More than just a single puppet is usually required.
Both you and your child take on different identities and role play a scenario etc – great for playing house, shopping etc.

5. Play hide and seek – Hide the puppet and let your child find it.
Great introduction to the rules of Hide and seek when no other play mates are available.

6. Act out situations – If a situation is coming up that may be scary
for the child or you would like to reinforce a behaviour etc then act out the situation with puppets. Explain that puppet is going to the dentist and needs to sit very still and quiet while the doctor examines their mouth. Act out being the dentist and the puppet is the patient. Toddlers and preschoolers react better to situations if they know what is coming beforehand, and externalising the situation through the puppet helps give them a better understanding.

7. In Place of an Imaginary Friends – Many preschoolers have
imaginary friends, why not give the friend a puppet identity?

8. Emotions – Discuss the effect that a childs actions has on the
emotions of the puppet. Explain that the puppet feels angry because mummy said no and explain what anger is and what it feels like. Toddlers and Preschoolers are not able to express and deal with emotions hence we have tantrums, discussing what these feelings are can be a great help in helping change certain behaviours.

9. Externalisation – If a child is upset and refuses to tell you what
has happened, try using puppets. Children will often easily explain a situation or something that happened if the subject is not themselves – hence blaming imaginary friends for broken items. Externalising the situation and taking blame away from themselves is a normal part of toddler development.

10. Meal Times – difficult eater? Invite the puppet over for dinner
on the condition that the subject demonstrates excellent table manners and eats their dinner. Works wonders but only if it’s not something that is used all the time. Toddlers cotton on really quick and it looses its exciting edge.

Jessica Rodda, Independent Seller for Curious Kids

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