51. Playing with puppets

Despite the sophisticated animation and gadgetry that most young children have access to today, puppets remain hugely popular and engaging. Many of us are familiar with the idea of Mr Punch and how children are able to observe and understand his unacceptable behaviour in the context of a safe and unthreatening show. But using puppets for play at home can help children learn and develop in plenty of ways beyond the right-and-wrong lessons of Mr Punch and his long suffering wife and child.

Puppets are a great teaching aid, especially if you find it difficult to ‘teach’ your own child, or if your child feels inhibited, or disengaged. A puppet brings another personality to the situation, often a comical one, who can act as a buffer between parent/teacher and child. Puppet play supports literacy development, since they can sing and laugh and interact with the child in a way that engages them. They can also be great confidence-building tools, as children talk in front of others and assert themselves towards a puppet more readily than they would an adult.

There are some great puppets available, but of course it’s always fun to make your own with old socks, gloves and a few buttons.

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