How Does A Puppet Ask Its Questions?

The puppet as a tool is an interactive medium exceptionally suited for initiating a wide variety of conversations and activities. It effectively engages children in activities and actively contributes to their language development or socio-emotional growth. Children who find it difficult to express themselves or are lagging in their language development generally find it easier to talk to a puppet due to its accessibility and the expectation that the puppet will not judge or correct them.

There Are No ‘Wrong Answers’ for a Puppet

This impacts how the puppet approaches questions. If the puppet gives the impression that there are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers, it might hinder children from participating. Therefore, consider what you aim to achieve: do you want to test knowledge, or is participation more important? If testing knowledge, think about how the puppet reacts to answers. A puppet that gets happy about right answers and sad about wrong ones might discourage children who are unsure of their response. A neutral reaction that does not emphasize correctness encourages more openness.

Chatting About Topics Is More Accessible Than Asking Questions

A puppet should not take over the educator’s role but should facilitate children feeling free to participate in the conversation. This can be better achieved by correcting less and focusing more on the conversation itself. For example, a puppet talking about an afternoon spent playing outside and casually asking, “Do you know what it’s like to play hide and seek?” invites more responses than a direct question like, “What did you do yesterday afternoon?”

A Puppet Can Offer Language Without Expecting Language in Return

Instead of expecting children to speak, a puppet can offer language by describing situations that are familiar to the children, making it easier for them to engage. Consider a puppet describing a scenario and asking simple questions that can be answered with a yes or no. When children perceive the puppet as safe, they are more likely to talk.

Be Aware of What You Ask and Convey

My experience shows that a puppet that does not judge and accepts nodding as an answer often leads to more spontaneous interactions. Listen to yourself when you talk and consider if your phrasing or tone suggests expectations. Try rephrasing your sentences and discover how minor changes can make a big difference in how children respond. Experiment and enjoy the process, as the spontaneous interaction not only enriches the children but also yourself.

Author

Helen Meurs (helenmeurs.com) is a pioneer in the field of Puppet Power, an independent trainer and developer. She offers online courses, is the lead instructor at the vocational training for puppet coaches, and authored the book ‘The Hand Puppet as a Educational Tool’. Subscribe to her newsletter if you want to know more.

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