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How to Use Puppets to Promote Development

Puppets have been around since ancient times–literally. They were used to tell stories as early as the 5th century BCE, in ancient Greece. Aside from history, did you know that you can use puppets to support language and cognitive development with your little ones? Now is the time to unpack those fun childhood toys and utilize them in your daily learning routines. Below are some of the ways we use puppets here at the clinic on a daily basis.

  1. Social practice

Use your puppets to encourage greetings and practice turn taking. Practicing saying “hello, goodbye, how old are you, etc” with a puppet can be a great opportunity to role-play with your child and practice before you interact with family and friends in a more natural environment.

2. Tea party

Practice your table manners by having the puppet be a model! A puppet can also “try” new foods to help show your picky eater that the foods are safe to try, interact, or play with!

3. Show that it’s okay to make mistakes!

The puppet can be the first one to try a new activity and show that it’s okay to make mistakes. It isn’t always easy at the beginning, but even a puppet can try it!

4. Comedic relief!

Having the puppet act out silly dance moves or knock-knock jokes can provide the best entertainment for your kiddos! The sky’s the limit to how silly and goofy the puppets can be! At the clinic, we have played hide and seek, have had the puppet make a mess in the treatment room, and have had him hide all of the books before! It is so fun to explore new adventures with your puppets!

5. During board games (another body to take a turn!)

If you’re playing one-on-one with your kiddo, the puppet can serve as another player in the game to practice patience, turn-taking, and following directions!

6. Eliciting speech sounds

Use your puppet to provide a model for your child while practicing speech sounds. Any speech sound can be targeted while using a puppet! Bonus points if your puppet has a tongue to provide an extra model for your children!

7. Reinforcement

The puppet can be used as a prize for completing jobs or chores.

8. Audience member

Use the puppet as an audience member to practice a school speech, practice show and tell, or practice narrative skills by telling stories to!

Here is a picture of our puppet “Butters!” He is always a HIT during therapy and the kids always ask for him!

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