Using puppets is great fun! Puppet play will allow you and your child to explore new ideas and create many different situations with the puppets you make. Holding a puppet empowers a child. Children can act out or say things in role-playing that they might not otherwise do or say. They can problem solve or just have fun using their wild imaginations. The process of puppet making is fantastic, too. Engage your child and make the experience as participatory and interactive as possible. Be creative! Make puppet play a "together time" activity!
Get out the recycle box and get inventive finding materials for crafting puppets with your child. A world of creativity and imagination awaits.
Sack and Sock Puppets
Paper bag puppets or those made from old socks can be created and enjoyed by kids from preschool-age on up. You decide how much time and artistic effort you want to put into your puppet project. They can be quickie puppet play stand-ins or works of art. You can draw facial features with crayons and markers and decorate them with a few "found" objects like fabric scraps, buttons, faux jewels, pipe cleaners, yarn, or any variety of miscellany you can gather.
Nylon Stocking Puppet
Stretch a leg from a pantyhose over a bent wire hanger. You can bend the hanger into a diamond or even a circle shape. Knot the stocking leg at the bottom hook of the hanger. This is a great puppet for young children as they can see through the nylon like a mask and pretend they are the puppet—good vision and a no-fear factor. You can go to town decorating this puppet mask with all kinds of materials glued on. Puff and glitter paints work well on the nylon.
Stick puppets are exactly as their name implies—puppets built and manipulated on a stick. These are among the quickest puppets to make. For sticks, use dowels, yardsticks, tongue depressors, wooden spoons, or Popsicle sticks. The very simplest stick puppet is a head shape cut from construction paper with features added with paint or markers. Tape a stick to the back and your puppet is complete. Make several with "faces of emotion" and your child can talk about his feelings through puppet play. To act out stories, draw the characters, find ones in coloring books, or cut them from an old storybook. Attach these to sticks and you now have all the characters you need to act out your favorite tale.
Use brown grocery bags and cut two duplicate patterns of your puppet. Punch holes around the edges with a hole punch (be sure that the holes on both pieces line up). Lace these together with a length of yarn. Placing tape on the one end of the yarn makes lacing a much easier task. Lace your puppet but leave a space where you can stuff the shape with polyester stuffing. Continue lacing to close the opening. Decorate the puppet with features that are drawn on with markers or glued on. Attach a strip handle on the back for the child to slip her hand in for manipulation. The strip could be made from cardboard or an elastic band.
Family Photo Puppets
Turn your family snapshots into puppets! Invite your child to choose several family photographs (use the photo or make a color copy). Cut out the face or figure. Tape this photo figure to a craft stick. Encourage your youngster to create a scene with a few toys and have these family puppets interact. Use a puppet yourself to ask your child's puppet questions and to suggest different themes, such as going shopping or taking a family trip. While you are having fun together, this activity helps your child develop language and social skills.
Tips for Using Your Puppets:
- The simplest way to use your puppets is by sitting on the floor, facing each other. Talk to each other, sing, make your puppets dance, etc.
- Another way is by using a tabletop, sitting on either side of the table.
- If you want to do a presentation for family and friends, tip the table over onto one side with the tabletop facing the audience. You now have a table stage (you are behind it and you can manipulate your puppets to show above).