Most of us have played with puppets or have pretended to be a ventriloquist and trying out different quirky voices! When we were young, the use of puppets were mainly for entertainment purposes; they were just like every other toy that we owned. However, there should be no surprise that many educators worldwide are using puppets to instil learning in young children. There are benefits of puppet-play that might be unknown to us, especially parents! Let’s check them out, shall we?
1) Stimulates imagination
The most obvious benefit of puppet-play is encouraging the child’s imagination and creativity. We have seen children coming up with stories involving their dolls, from giving them names, to elaborate scenarios with their other toys; be it a Barbie or a Transformer! With puppets, the play becomes more personalised and fun, with the ability to manipulate them, move their limbs and head.
Parents can also read or tell fairy tales and other stories to their children and ask them to recreate these stories using puppets. This reinforces what they have retained from the stories they have just heard and parents can take delight in watching their kids’ versions of the tales.
2) Emotional development
Sometimes kids are shy and withdrawn and often parents have a hard time coaxing them to share their feelings. In such cases, the puppet becomes a “friend” that kids can express their feelings to, without the discomfort. This ensures that they have a safe space to vent their emotions or they might even use the puppets to communicate to their parents about their unhappiness.
Hear the spoken and unspoken through puppet play!
3) Improves motor skills
When using fingers to move the puppets, your child improves his fine motor skills (small actions such as picking up and holding objects). This way he is able to learn which finger he needs to wriggle in order to make the puppet’s arm or leg move. What a way to coordinate brain-hand coordination!
4) Learn etiquette
Parents know the difficulties of teaching their children good manners and etiquette and at times children find it hard to listen to authority figures, be it parents, caregivers or teachers. Using puppets can be an easier way to communicate valuable messages to children, since the communication is done in a fun and unusual manner and not from a traditional or strict position.
5) Boosts confidence in speaking and reading
Kids may feel shy reading or speaking out loud in front of their peers or parents. When this happens, they are more willing to do so in front of their puppet “friends”. As they concoct stories with their puppets, their language skills also improve. They learn to construct sentences and find words to describe the elements in their storytelling.
Furthermore, research has shown that kids show lesser inhibitions when they are behind a puppet. They feel more comfortable as they explore the different possibilities in playing with the puppets.
6) Increases group participation
In a group setting, be it among siblings or classroom, puppets can be used to increase the participation level of children and add an element of fun. Kids get excited when a new toy is introduced and teachers can allow them to create stories or express their feelings about a certain topic, using puppets.
They may even alter a fairy tale’s ending according to their imagination. "Why must Snow White flee from the evil queen? Why can’t she stay behind to defeat her!"
Introduce a puppet pal to your child today and watch his imagination bloom as he becomes a storyteller, or see his confidence boost in social settings.
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