Puppets – Make and Act – Express Yourself
October 1, 2014
How would it be if you had a friend that knew all about you? That could be the puppet at the end of your arm. She knows what you’re thinking. She knows how you feel. She knows your secret desires and ambitions. She knows everything about you and can let it all hang out because she’s not you.
- “Puppets are both entertaining and captivating. Children can believe and relate to them; they can enter and explore the fascinating inventive world that puppets create.” A Greensmith at creativityinstitute.com/puppetsineducation.aspx
Puppets have been around for at least three thousand years. To have that longevity there must be something going for them. In this day and age of the Muppets and Sesame Street, puppets have literally taken on lives of their own. Whether your children are holding the strings or have them on their fingers, puppets (and marionettes) open up new ways and opportunities for them to:
- Practice Social Skills like: cooperation, empathy, acceptance and conflict resolution
- Communicate better: by acquiring and using language skills, different voices, intonation …
- Share Emotions that might otherwise be difficult or suppressed
- Develop Confidence by being both the participant and observer in anonymous interactions
- Capture Attention
- Take Risk: singing, talking in funny voices, expressing opinions and acting in ways out of their comfort zones
- Hone Motor Skills: fine motor skills with little puppets and larger puppets require bigger movements
- Overcome Reluctance to Participate; puppets have a way of focusing attention
Research shows the kind of puppet has very little baring on the experience. Gund and Folkmanis make beautiful animals puppets that double as adorable stuffed animals. Sock and paper bag puppets are popular for do it yourself projects. The kind and quality of the puppet has little bearing on the benefits. Heck, draw some faces on some styrofoam cups and start acting silly. The point is to create an alternate identity. Give yourself a chance to be whatever you can imagine in whatever circumstance with whatever mood. When was the last time you were a hungry moose stuck in the mud arguing with a belligerent grizzly bear?
- “Puppetry, or dramatics, can help students internalize language patterns, enhance listening skills, develop risk-taking skills and student confidence, provide opportunities for students to work cooperatively [and] develop a greater understanding of themselves and their world.” Allyson N. Lepley - Glen Forest Elementary - Fairfax County Public Schools
Parents you can help. You can use puppets yourself to model how it’s done. Maybe Racky Raccoon reads the bedtime story tonight. You can help your children make their own puppets and encourage them with your involvement. Let them lead the story as much as you can. Alternatively you can help or challenge them to present a favorite nursery rhyme like the Three Pigs or Goldilocks. Or create a world through stories of your own. Let your imaginations run and go, do, be something completely new and different.
- “Puppets can help boost creativity and stimulate kids’ imaginations, from the preschool age up to early teen years. The innate interactivity draws children in and encourages them to be actively involved in the learning process and share their thoughts and observations.” Christie Belfiore at TEACH Magazine
Puppets are another tool in your playroom or classroom to encourage and facilitate children using their imaginations. The benefits are real and comprehensive. It’s hard to imagine another way to spend a few dollars or a little time, buy or make a few puppets and empower your imagineers to explore their emotions and worlds with puppets.