Puppets! An Early Literacy Tool

I love puppets. I am fortunate enough to have a nice collection of puppets to use in my children’s librarian work, and the kids I get to share them with really enjoy interacting with them. Puppets are a GREAT early literacy skills builder:

  • In my experience, children often interact with puppets in a different way

    Some of my puppets…and non-puppets.

    than they do with adults. They seem to more readily talk to them – and sort of look on them as a peer.  By sharing with a puppet, children use and build their language skills.

  • Children can play with puppets and use them to tell stories. Again, this develops language and vocabulary. Children also learn about story structure – that stories have beginnings, middles, and ends. Adults playing with a child can help by elaborating on what a child says and using a variety of words.
  • Have the puppets sing a song or, if you’ve got 5 little monkey puppets, help chant a rhyme! This develops phonological awareness skills (breaking words up in to smaller sounds) which helps later with sounding out words.
  • Children can use puppets to re-tell a story, demonstrating skills like sequencing (what happens next?) and comprehension.
  • Children playing with puppets are growing their imaginations.

Here’s a great article from School Library Journal about using puppets in library storytimes and the early literacy skills kids are developing.

But puppets like some of the lovely ones I have at the library are EXPENSIVE! What can you do if you don’t have the funds to grow a great puppet collection? Here are a few ideas that don’t require lots of money OR great sewing/crafting skills:

  • Envelope puppets! Seal an envelope, cut it in half, draw a face on the plain side, and stick your hand in! Voilá! Instant puppet (See the pig in the picture above). Dr. Jean has an example with a cool echo poem you can recite with them.  And I originally got this idea from No Time For Flashcard’s post.

    5 little ducks went out to play…

  • Stick puppets! Collect all those popsicle sticks from summer and wash ‘em off. Cut out a picture from a magazine, print a picture off the internet, or draw your own and stick it on the…uh…stick. Done! Here are some printable images to use for a stick puppet retelling of the Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle.
  • Sock puppets! Now THERE’S something you can do with all of those lonesome socks that have lost their mates. Draw on some eyes and a nose, or glue on some bits of felt or paper, and you’ve got a character.
  • Pipe cleaner puppets! Curl a pipe cleaner around your finger, stick a pom-pom on top, add some googly eyes, and you’re done! See my piggy in the picture above for my quickly-made example.  PS: I found pom-poms and googly eyes at the dollar store. So this CAN be a very inexpensive puppet project.
  • Who says puppets have to actually be puppets? If your child has a stuffed animal or six, make them talk! Ask your child to give his favorite stuffed friend a voice, and ask that friend questions! What does Theodore Bear like to eat? Where is his favorite place to eat it? Can Theodore Bear tell you the story of his family?

There are LOTS more ideas for creating inexpensive puppets that I’ll be sharing in future posts. Do YOU have any great puppet ideas (either for using them with kids or making them) you’d like to share? Please do! I’m all ears!

 

 

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