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Using a hand puppet for child development has invaluable value. It goes beyond language development; it also has positive effects on social-emotional development and increases children’s independence. As a teacher or educator, you can benefit greatly from working with a hand puppet, but it requires certain skills and insights.

Over the past 30 years, I have spoken to many educators who saw the potential of a hand puppet, yet did not use it effectively. Perhaps you recognize it: children reacted rude to the hand puppet, were fussy or disobedient. Working with a hand puppet is more than simply putting a puppet on your hand and expecting it to work itself out. It takes skills and understanding.

But don’t be discouraged, because although it takes some practice, it is well worth the time investment. So much is possible with a hand puppet, more than meets the eye. With the right approach, a hand puppet can become a great assistant and valuable tool. A hand puppet can playfully stimulate children’s development and allow them to safely practice new skills. Children often show more of themselves in the presence of a hand puppet and are more easily challenged to do things they actually find scary. This makes observing and diagnosing a child easier. In addition, the hand puppet brings relaxation and fun and makes providing activities and lessons easier. There is really no reason not to use a hand puppet.

Here are some times when you can use a hand puppet:

  • During circle discussions or activities
  • In individual conversations or activities
  • During independent work or free play
  • As an introduction to a topic
  • When deepening a topic
  • In conflicts and difficult situations
  • When practicing new skills
  • In encouraging teamwork and cooperation
  • At daily or weekly openings and closings

Using a hand puppet allows children to learn in a safe and accessible way:

  • Learning to play both independently and with others
  • Expressing and dealing with emotions
  • Communicating both verbally and nonverbally
  • Experiencing and trying out new behaviors
  • Pushing boundaries and taking on new challenges
  • Developing empathy by getting into the skin of another person
  • Practice with curriculum and language skills
  • Practicing with social situations and conflicts
  • Increasing self-confidence and assertiveness
  • Exploring the world through play
  • Learning new words and concepts

The purpose of using a hand puppet is always to challenge children’s participation and interaction. A hand puppet can play a structural role throughout the day, but can also appear only during specific moments, such as the introduction of a new theme, circle activities, after meals or when reading a story aloud. How you want to use the hand puppet and at what times is entirely up to you.

Want to get more out of your hand puppet and could use some help? Please reach out to me. I will start with English courses in a while and would love to inform you about that.

Harness the power of a hand puppet and experience for yourself how it can enhance children’s language development, social-emotional development and independence. Give your children the chance to grow and flourish with the help of an inviting friend on your hand.

Do you have questions or want more information? Feel free to send me an e-mail. I am happy to help you on your way to a successful hand puppet integration.

With Love,


Helen Meurs ( 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.