A versatile and useful puppet in the classroom or group is not an act or just a storyteller. The puppet can be much more.  The puppet introduced as an independent and curious friend is not only much more accessible to children, but also has capabilities that are interesting to use.

Imagine a puppet that discovers, investigates, takes on new challenges and proposes its own learning questions. A puppet that has emotions and feelings, has its own opinion, who dares to speak up, who dares to show his strengths but also his weaknesses and shares everything with children. A puppet that is like the children so that they recognize themselves in him and find him credible. A puppet with the same experience world as the children, but who does not react the same in everything as the children do. Who doesn’t start yelling, hitting or kicking if he doesn’t get his way, but uses I-messages: ‘I don’t like it now, I also want to ride the bike, I can’t do it, can you help me?’ A puppet that challenges children to action and/or a different reaction, by standing next to the child and thinking and acting from a different role than your own.

You may already have a puppet in your class or group, or work with a method that includes one. On which moments do you use it now? Below I wrote down some suggestions. What do you use a hand puppet for?

 
Circle activity
Themed activity
Language
Reading
Telling
Listening
Mathematics
Conceptual knowledge
Nature activity
Religion lessons
Music activities
Singing
Dancing
Gymnastics
Writing
Outdoor lessons
Learning letters
Learning numbers
Birthday celebrations
Book activities
world orientation
Creativity lessons
Social emotional development
Behavior
resilience
Say goodbye
Targeted game
Finishing a task
Concentration
Corner work
Collaboration
Self-sustainability
Increase attention
Free work
Working according to order
Instruction
Conflict solving
Individual guidance
To welcome

How many Yesses did you gave? Did you see suggestions in these lists that occur in your daily practice? Suggestions you never thought of? Which are they?

I’m not saying you should use a hand puppet for everything, I’m just saying you can. You can include a puppet in all activities, development goals and action plans that come along. You can involve a puppet in everything that happens in your class or group. You can choose to use the magic of the puppet, to see what it has in nature and which makes children talk to it so easily, to see more of children. With just a little effort from you.

The only thing you have to make an effort for is to keep the puppet ‘pure’. Let him be a real friend, not your accomplice. Let him look at the world through the eyes of a child, even if it doesn’t suit you and the goals you want to achieve. Be aware of what a puppet is for the child and give the puppet ‘language’ that fits. For example, friends don’t bother about mispronounced words, about unwashed hands, or about shoes that are covered in mud. Think about that, if you have a puppet, how does your puppet do that?

Do you have a puppet in your group or class, and do you regret that it ended up on or in the closet and never got out again? Then bring him in again. Look closely at him and think of 3 questions that he could ask children in the circle. Simple questions like:

  • did you sleep well last night?
  • did you go to the hairdresser?
  • what is your favorite book?
  • what is your favorite color?

Simple questions to find out about the other person, questions that make them feel like you see and hear them, questions that show interest and help you build a friendship. Nothing difficult, no activity, just 3 simple questions. Give it a try and let me know how that was, what happened to the kids and to you.

Do you want to know more? Then keep following me, so I can give you a step now and then. Or send me a mail if you think I can help you with your question.

Until the next blog 🙂

With love,

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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