Puppets can mean many things to preschool children. Puppet play can lead to increased self expression and creativity. It can instill a love of dramatics, encourage speech from otherwise reluctant orators and greatly improve communication between teachers and children. Home made puppets are best especially when children can assist in their creation. Generally, puppets fall into four different categories.
Hand puppets are somewhat like a three fingered glove comprising a fabric body with a hole for each arm and one for the head. Simply trace around a child’s hand for size and use a small, light ball, foam or polystyrene ball for the head. Cut a hole in the ball to accommodate fingers and encase the ball in fabric so you can stitch or draw a face and hair. You can go wild with the fabrics you use for the body and have detachable features so that one puppet can be many characters.
A stick puppet is easily made using a piece of wood with a head stuck on top. Painted or detachable features can again be used on the simple wooden ball otherwise known as the head. A piece of fabric, with holes for arms, can quickly be transformed into a magnificent cloak. A wooden spoon enveloped in just such a cloak can often double for a stick puppet should you be against the clock.
Attaching obvious animal features to an old sock is an easy way to make animal puppets so, whiskers and beady eyes makes something rodent like, felt ears and a trunk generally denotes an elephant (let your imagination run wild!). Cut the head off old vinyl toys or remove the stuffing from a beat up stuffed animal and hey presto – recycled animal puppets.
Stretchy fabric covering a small bead or piece of foam will suffice for these puppets. A pipe cleaner running through the sleeves serve as arms under a cape style tunic. The fabric of the head should be securely stitched to the cape. Elaborate accessories and tiny features combine to make finger puppets very detailed and special in their small way.
Use an arch on top of a table or the window of a play house, complete with curtains, as a theatre or stage upon which your puppet ensemble can strut its stuff. Enjoy the show!
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