Invitation to Play with Folkmanis Stuffed Animal Puppets
Puppets will forever hold a special place in my heart. I grew up with Mr. Rogers using puppets for social emotional development, and ways to teach difficult topics to young children. At an early age I fell in love with puppets.
My mother was an animated storyteller and I soaked in every story she told. She had a passion for stories and role play, and that’s exactly what puppets can bring to life. My children now love puppets as much as I do.
They frequently ask for us to pull out our puppet friends who each have their own names and different personalities. So how do we get our children just as excited about puppets? Here are a few ideas.
5 Invitations to Play with Folkmanis Puppets
1. Parent Led Play
When you are first introducing puppets, parents may want to take the lead. Show them that the puppet is fun and playful. Change your tone of voice to make it special and unique to that puppet. Read books to your child using the puppet.
Show them that they can have safe conversations with the puppet. The puppet can be an active listener to your child. Whether doing a puppet theatre, or simply pulling the puppet out to read a story, showing that puppets can be fun and enhance imagination through creative play, will excite your children to want to try out the puppet for themselves.
2. Small World Play
Set up a small world play scene with the puppets. The smaller finger puppets can easily be used for this. I took the woodland finger puppets and added them to our small wooden tree house along with some gnome characters for a fun small world scene. You could also add small trees, mushrooms, homes etc.
Although the smaller puppets may be easier to think up small world set ups, you can still create a small world scene with some of the larger puppets. For example you could use the frog puppet, lay down a blue blanket for the “water” of the small world scene, and add some foam lily pads, pretend flies, logs etc. for a fun pond set up.
3. Dramatic Play
Dramatic play is one of my favorites. Children naturally seem to dive into dramatic play, all you have to do is set a couple of things out and their creativity and imagination will take over.
I laid out a princess type dress and the frog puppet and my three girls immediately began acting out princess and the frog. They loved hopping around and pretending that once they kissed the frog, they also turned into a frog.
Selecting books that have similar characters as your puppets, could also go along with dramatic play. You could simply add the book and the puppet to go together so they not only get excited about the story, but they get excited to bring the story to life while using a puppet.
You could also add in some dramatic play activities to go along with the book and the puppet such as clothing, or additional characters that are within the story to communicate between two puppets.
5. Learning Set Up
Another invitation to play set up you could do with puppets is a learning set up. I used our Folkmanis bee puppet with some Safari Good Luck mini bees, counting trays, honey, flowers, and the safari bee life cycle toys to add a fun activity that encourages children to explore bees on a deeper level.
When you put out items that encourage questions and discovery, children will be curious about the different items that are involved in the set up. I loved watching my three year old daughter start to instantly pick up each item and begin playing with the little bees, along with the hand puppet who was flying from flower to flower of our backdrop.
6. Puppet Theatre
This may be the set up your mind initially goes to when you first think of puppets. A puppet theater is a great invitation to play scene. Grab all of your puppets, throw them in a basket to choose from, pop some popcorn, place seats out for the audience, and add a theater stage.
A theater stage can be as simple as the back of your couch. It doesn’t have to be elaborate for children to get excited about play. I love watching the stories and scenes that my children come up with each time they put on a show for us.
Puppets can be a great resource to add into your play. They are a perfect resource to enhance language skills, cognitive skills, and social-emotional skills. Setting them out with a book or a couple additional activities will help your child to get excited about playing and exploring with the puppets. I am always amazed how my girls open up about their feelings and thoughts when I put a puppet on my hand. It’s incredible to see how they blossom and grow developmentally with the added use of a puppet. Think about ways you could set up a fun invitation to play scenes using your puppets!
About the writer
RyLee Matangi is a Child Development Specialist & Blogger. Find her work on purposefultoys.com