Puppet play can be an important part of your preschool curriculum. Creating and playing with puppets gives children a chance to be creative, to play with language and vocabulary, collaborate with others and problem solve. Few other preschool activities pack so much educational and developmental punch!
If money is tight and your class shows an interest in puppet play, consider making your own preschool puppets. To make puppets, gather as many crafting materials as you can and allow children to use their imaginations to create all kinds of puppets. From people and animals to fairies and dinosaurs, the types of puppets you make are only limited by your imagination!
Types of Puppets
Here are a just a few examples of preschool puppets to make in your classroom:
Sock Puppets: These puppets are the simplest to manipulate, as they only require the use of one hand. Ask parents for donations of lonely unmatched socks and keep them in your craft closet until you are ready to use them to create your sock puppets. Read this article for more information on preschool sock puppets.
Stick Puppets: To create stick puppets, set out some construction paper, scissors, markers and crayons. Animal and people shaped cookie cutters or stencils are great for creating basic stick puppet shapes. Trace the shapes on the paper and have children use safety scissors to cut them out. Make use of googly eyes, fabric scraps, colored paper scraps and beads to add adornments to your paper creations. Attach the puppets to sturdy drinking straws or popsicle sticks to create puppets. For a more focused activity, have children decide on a story to act out with the puppets and then brainstorm together which characters you will need to create in order to tell the story.
Shadow Puppets: For putting on a shadow play, create shadow puppets similar to the way you created the stick puppets. With shadow puppets, explain to the children that the audience will not see the decorations, so it is only necessary to cut out the shape of the puppet from the paper and attach it to a straw or popsicle stick. Another way to make shadow puppets is using just your hand. Shine a bright flashlight at a blank wall and show children how to make simple shapes with their hands to create animals and other creatures on the wall. Allow children to discover other animals by manipulating their hands in front of the flashlight.
Paper Bag Puppets: Use paper lunch sacks for this activity. Again, use leftover scrap construction paper, fabric remnants, paint, glitter, glue, markers and crayons for this activity. The more craft materials available, the more creative children will be with their puppet creations. Fold paper strips accordion style for legs and arms for your puppets. Brainstorm with your children to make animals such as monkeys and bears on the paper bags. Ask children for suggestions for making bear ears, elephant trunks or hippopotamus tails for the puppets. Create a cast of characters for a puppet play.
You now have a whole cast of preschool puppets! To make a simple puppet stage, drape a bed sheet between two chairs. Show children how to hide behind the sheet and extend their puppet hands above the sheet to perform for the audience. Give each child a chance to perform with a puppet as well as a chance to experience the show as an audience member.
Suggest simple fables, stories or nursery rhymes for children to perform with their puppets. A few examples would be The Tortoise and the Hare, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Jack and Jill or Five Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. Allow children to perform puppet plays that they have imagined themselves, as well as giving them a few favorites to choose from. Keep the child-made puppets available in your classroom for dramatic play purposes.
Preschool puppets to make are an inexpensive and creative activity for children that has many developmental and educational benefits.
Reference: Creative Activities for Young Children; Mary Mayesky; 1995
Photo Credit: dieraecherin https://morguefile.com/archive/display/536203