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Puppets have always fascinated children. But did you know that puppets aren't just used for entertainment? The benefits of puppet play include helping children learn various academic and social skills.
Various studies have proved that puppets are very effective aids for fostering cooperation, enhancing creativity, and improving communication in preschoolers.
Puppet shows for kids have been used in classrooms, homes, hospitals and care centers for fun and learning. They have been used as an educational resource for decades. If you haven't tried playing with puppets with your child before, here's your chance!
You can make sock puppets by drawing a pair of eyes, ears and a cheerful mouth on a pair of socks. Slip one puppet on each hand and start a conversation between the two. Finger puppets can be tailor-made to fit your or your preschooler's fingers. With a little imagination, you can have ten characters, one for each finger of both hands!
You can also make stick puppets by pasting animal faces on ice cream sticks for your preschooler to hold while you narrate a story. String puppets can be purchased from stores. However, using these puppets adroitly needs some practice.
What can preschoolers learn through puppets? The benefits are multifarious. Puppet play helps your child in:
The simplest way to get your little preschooler to open up and talk is through puppets. You can make a stick puppet and become the puppet's voice. Through the puppet, ask questions to your child and encourage him to move the puppet around as he answers. The puppet can also become 'the friend' that your child can talk to about anything! You will be surprised to learn how much more your child engages and communicates with the puppets than with you.
In the article, 'Puppets in Education' published on creativityinstitute.com, author A Greensmith says, "Any puppet can encourage the quietest of children to start talking. Puppets can break down barriers and provide an effective means to initiate communication."
Puppets can be used as characters in a story to teach concepts and life skills. You narrate a story and use hand puppets to enact the scenes. As you do this, you can see how keenly your preschooler is observing and listening. You can use this interesting method to teach values and morals to your child from a very young age, which she will likely remember for a lifetime.
Motivate your child to come up with stories and use finger puppets to portray the different characters. Encourage him to come up with different voices for each character of his story. In case this is challenging, your child can mimic the actions you do with the puppets. You can play creative games using puppets or act out imaginary scenes with your preschooler and have the puppets play the roles of some characters.
Make a puppet stage along with your preschooler. Use cardboard cut-outs, stickers and child-friendly paint to design an attractive background. Make sure that your child chooses the theme and participates in the decorating process. Together, you can make your own puppets. Once ready, set up the puppet stage in her activity corner and allocate puppet time every day. You can also ask your child to invite her friends and stage a chatty puppet show that will be fun and engaging for all!
Children see puppets as companions and friends. So, puppets are great for calming down hyperactive children. You can also use puppets to chide your child in a gentle and humorous way or soothe his nerves by singing to him. Caroline Paul, the mother to a preschooler aged 3, from Chennai, says, "My daughter is very attached to her kangaroo puppet and actually listens more to the puppet than to me!"
Handling and manipulating puppets helps a child develop gross and fine motor skills. Author A Greensmith mentions in her article that, "Puppets can assist children with special educational needs. They can motivate and support children with difficulties in communication and interaction. They can help to develop their social and motor skills, and can meet the visual, tactile and emotional needs of the individual child."
Is your child shy and fearful of the world around her? Is she struggling to make new friends or communicate with others? Playing with puppets can help your child overcome her shyness, speak up more, and develop confidence in herself.
With a little creativity and imagination, puppets of different types can be made. Some of the common types of puppets that we usually come across are:
More than adults, it is children who enjoy playing with puppets or watching a puppet show. But, the puppet show is not only about entertainment, it also has several other benefits such as:
So, what are you waiting for? Look around your home now and pick out little bits and bobs that can go into making your child's first puppet pal.