I am alway trying to find new ways to encourage creativity and imagination in my children. I decided to focus our energy on a puppet theater, thinking that they would go crazy creating plays and re-enacting fables / fairy tales they have learned. I was disappointed when the theater and puppets sat unloved. I realized before they would be able to use the puppet theater as I had envisioned; a form of expression and creativity, I would first have to show them how to play. They were too young to use the theater independently.
On a very icy morning, when there was no where to go and little to do but be present with my children I focused our attention on the puppet theater. We looked at the puppets and thought about which characters they could be. My daughter was excited at the idea of creating a play based on Jack and the Bean Stalk. We quickly discussed what characters were needed and what puppets would play each of the characters. We divide up the parts and began to practice. I narrated the story as we acted out the scenes. My two year old son, being a little too young for such an advanced performance became the audience. During our rehearsal we quickly realized we needed some props to make the play work. I quickly ran to the recycling and grabbed a cardboard box and we began to draw the props we needed (beans, bean stalk and gold). We ran through the play once more as a dress rehearsal before we had our performance for my husband that night.
My daughter and I actively worked together on our puppet performance for about an hour. It was the highlight of both of our day. Wouldn’t you know it, the puppet theater became our household’s favorite toy after that. Often times children need a gentle push and then they are off and on their way. My daughter preformed her favorites, and even began creating her own. My son loved using the puppets and playing in the theater on his own.
Introducing puppets into your children’s lives gives them more than just something to do, it also is a great way to focus on early literacy and kindergarten readiness skills. Plays often are based on books and fairy tales that children are familiar with. The more books and stories children are exposed to the more eager they will be to act out their favorite ones. Puppet shows also teach children very key aspects of story structure such as beginning, middle, and end, characters and their development, setting, and sequencing of events. Fairy tales and fables are also an extremely important aspect of early literacy and puppetry enables children to learn these stories and to bring them to life. By creating puppet shows based on books and fairy tales children are able to learn more about these stories and delve deeper into them than just reading would ever allow them to do.
Puppet play can be a very fun and engaging activity with a very minimal price tag. Though we purchased our puppet theater it is easy to make one from a cardboard box and some paint. Puppets can often be acquired cheaply or made out of socks and fabric markers. Below are a list of ideas and tips to start your very own puppet theater adventure!
Written By Nicole Rowley