Puppet Making

spoon puppet Puppets are a key learning resource which can be utilised both in the home by parents and their children as well as by professional child-care practitioners.  Using puppets in play situations and in story telling can enhance learning and social and emotional development in many ways.  Puppets can be exploited in a variety of situations – they can be used to focus attention during story telling or song and rhyme or children can use them in role-play situations to ‘try out’ emotions, behaviours and developing language skills.  You may also find that shy children, children with behavioural difficulties or children simply having an ‘awkward moment’ will be more responsive if they can talk to a puppet.

While there are many beautiful puppets available to buy they are rarely cheap.  Here are some simple ideas for making puppets.  We suggest you involve older children in making their own puppets to support their learning activities.  Puppets don’t have to be slick in appearance, at the end of the day they are representations and children understand this perfectly well. A beautifully made puppet is pointless if it doesn’t get used.  Here are ideas which are cheap and can be made mostly from recycled materials.

Keep It Simple! 

I have often got out the felt tips and drawn faces directly on to my finger-tips.  Very small children are captivated instantly when they observe this peculiar adult behaviour!  Having built up the anticipation they are more than ready for a story. My faces are rarely great works of art, but this simple form of puppetry is all that is needed to focus attention on a good tale.  I always just ‘tell’ the stories, don’t worry your performance doesn’t have to be flawless.  I am always amazed at the positive reception oral story telling gets from children of all age groups.  Stories with limited characters work well for this, the ‘one and threes’ as I call them – one troll, three billy goats gruff; one wolf, three little pigs; one Goldilocks, three bears.

Another super simple idea is to use stickers.  You can stick shiny stars onto little fingers to do a performance of ‘Twinkle, twinkle’ or little green circles for ‘Five Little Peas’.  This will really encourage babies and young toddlers to get those fingers wiggling and joining in with the fun.

sockpuppetblue Gloves and Socks:

Odd gloves and socks are crying out to be recycled as puppets! Who doesn’t have an odd sock to spare?! Mittens and gloves similarly, rarely make it through winter without losing their partners.  I particularly like using old gloves to illustrate finger rhymes for toddlers.  You can choose to leave the gloves whole and intact for counting rhymes such as ‘Five Little Ducks’ or cut off the fingers to make individual puppets.  Seal the frayed ends with PVA glue.  Get children to manipulate socks before you start making the puppets.  This will help you decide where eyes and ears should go. Glue doesn’t always provide good adhesion on fabrics, so have double sided sticky tape at the ready to reinforce your child’s efforts.

Spoons, Cups And Plates

Cheap wooden spoons are ideal for older children to draw faces on.  The advent of googly eyes has revolutionised these traditional craft activities and always add great appeal to puppets.  Paper plates stuck onto pea-sticks or inner tubes from tin foil and cling film are great for younger children to make faces on.  To make string puppets pierce a hole in the bottom of paper cups (save and recycle all those take-away coffee cups!) and thread knotted string through.  Decorate the outside of the cups with facial features and add pipe-cleaners, articulated straws or strips of paper to make legs.  This is great for octopuses and spiders!



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