Using Puppets with Babies,Toddlers, and Preschoolers
Children love visual stimulation and babies and toddlers love faces. Now what could be more appealing than puppets? Puppets can be so entertaining for babies and young children and are a great way to get children’s attention. If a teacher needs to teach a new idea, using puppets is a fantastic choice.
Using puppets as part of your curriculum does not demand that you be a ventriloquist or have years of experience. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers will be interested in your puppet for so many reasons. Here are some very simple guidelines.
1. Make it is visually stimulating. Just watching the puppets alone will hold children’s interest. The story or song that goes with it is not the only source of interest. Puppets with bright colors and good eyes are always best. Young children love faces and good eyes! Mouths that move are preferable. I always try to remember to open the mouth each time my puppet says a word. Try not to move the puppet around too much so that children’s eyes don’t have to work too hard to follow your puppet.
2. Make sure your puppet tells a good story that holds their interest. Create simple plots. Think like a child! Watch them! They will tell you what to do by their reactions and interaction. The good thing is that they will be so interested in the puppet, they still won’t mind. Get good ideas from age appropriate children’s books, shows, and songs and use them or rewrite and adapt original material using similar formats.
3. Use traditional stories or songs or create new ones. Start with something like farm animals on Old MacDonald’s farm or animals on Noah’s ark. Remember, everything is new to these little children! No matter what you create and share will be exciting if it is something they can relate to. Take traditional stories like these and add your own creative twist.
4. Give your puppet a name. This will give you a sense of the puppet’s personality that you can expand on. I have my barnyard animals that I use with my babies. There’s Pete the pig, Wally the duck, Charlie horse, Chuck the dog and his cousins, Buck and Lulu. I enjoy these names so it is easy for me to have fun with the songs I use them with.
5. Make the entire skit you use something you enjoy. If you enjoy it, the kids will enjoy it. Really. Your happiness will be transferred to them. How simple is that! Because it is fun, it will be much easier for you to create more characters and additions to your plot.
6. Use all kinds of puppets. You do not have to use the most expensive or famous name brand puppets. You can find great puppets at thrift shops, yard sales, or make them yourself. Before you know it you will have a good collection of puppets who become your companions.
7. Don’t wear out your welcome. Keep the show time with your puppet simple and only long enough to hold the attention of your particular age group. Remember that young children’s attention spans are not very long. If you watch your audience closely, you will know how long to keep going. The more you do this, the better you will be! Learn as you go!
I cannot emphasize enough how simple it is to use puppets and how engaged your little ones will be. Please, start looking for your first puppet today!