When does your puppet show up in class? Is this ongoing or only at the beginning of a theme, the week, or at a specific activity?
I often see in practice that the use of a hand puppet is limited to an occasional moment. The beginning of a new theme, for example, or during social-emotional development class, or during the book circle.
The puppet has been given a task and outside of that task he is not needed, it seems.
My experience is that a puppet is always needed. Children can always use a friend, always have something to say, there is always a conflict that needs to be resolved, there is always a challenge to take which requires extra support or a success moment that can be shared. The day is full of moments in which the hand puppet can play a wonderful role.
In doing so, I am not talking about a different puppet than you, I am talking about a “regular” hand puppet. One like the one you see above, for example. Nothing special. The puppet in my story is always interchangeable. That what I do with the puppet, that may be a little different than you’re used to. In fact, I use the puppet very often, daily at least, and it never gets boring.
Not the kids, and not to me. I don’t do role-playing nor do I make a story out of my puppet. For me, a hand puppet is above all an individual who discovers, explores, takes on new things and has his own learning questions. He has emotions/feelings, his own opinion/voice, he dares to show strengths, but also weaknesses, and he’s autonomous. He is played by me, but is not a second me. The puppet talks in the I-form and wants to be talked to instead of about. By having the puppet be like the children you are working with, children will recognize themselves in him and he will be more believable.
A puppet can then be used at many different moments and in many different activities. I’ll name a few:
- Circle activity
- Themed activity
- Language activity
- Reading activity
- Nature activity
- Religion lessons
- Music activities
- Outdoor lessons
- Birthday celebrations
- Book activities
- world orientation
- Creativity lessons
- Social emotional development
- Say goodbye
- Finishing a task
- Corner work
- Free work
- Individual guidance
- To welcome
Actually, there are very few activities in which a hand puppet cannot have a role. In my experience, children get bored of a hand puppet, especially when it becomes predictable, used as an educator, and rarely comes up with new content. When you make sure that the puppet runs with themes and topics as they are offered in the group, comes up with its own plans, angles and questions, it is rarely found boring. So therein lies your challenge!
It helps if you don’t set your own bar too high and focus on building a relationship with children. How you can do that, I tell you in this blog.
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