By contributing writer Colleen
When it is time to buy my kids gifts, I love choosing things that will inspire creativity. Open-ended play is great for all ages, and some of my favorite open-ended toys for kids are puppets and puppet theaters.
Puppets come in all shapes and sizes and can be used to act out stories that kids hear during their lessons. We’ve acted out simple fairy tales like The Frog Prince, as well as more complicated stories like The Secret Garden.
A simple puppet theater adds to the fun. Simple really is the operable word, too. A large cardboard box turned on its side can be a great theater that kids can decorate themselves. Or you can make a simple theater using curtain rods and fabric. If you want to be a bit more sophisticated, there are great theaters in a variety of price ranges available online, from curtains on tension rods that turn ordinary doorways into theaters, to play houses with big open window ledges.
Puppets, too, can be simple or elaborate. Kids can make their own out of socks and bits of random materials you might have lying around. My talented friend made these adorable puppets with my daughter’s preschool co-op class, and they’ve seen more play than the designer puppets we have at home.
If you’re looking to recreate everyday experiences, then you might want to pick up a set of puppets that are community themed. A doctor, nurse, policeman, and other community workers can help your child understand the situations he or she might encounter on a day to day basis.
Playing with puppets is a natural extension to kids’ imaginary play and a great way to help them get over their fears and insecurities, like talking to others. They can perform short shows for family and friends and make the puppet do the talking for them.
Older kids can write original scripts and act them out with puppets. It’s creative writing, set design, and performance all rolled into one fun activity.
Puppets really are great toys. They can be enjoyed by all ages, and they inspire lots and lots of open-ended, creative play.
What is your favorite way to use puppets with your kids?
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