Puppets are a good way to engage your child in interactive play. They are used extensively for the development of cognitive and motor skills in young children. Child care workers often employ puppets to encourage kids with delayed speech. At home, you can think of multiple ways to introduce a puppet friend to make your interaction with your kids fun and educative.
Before you buy a puppet for your child, you must educate yourself about the kinds of puppets available in the market. An informed buying decision ensures that your new purchase is not gathering dust in some corner of the house.
Also called glove puppets, these are the most popular variety. Your hand puppet may or may not have a movable mouth or it can be with or without arms. In either case, kids are attracted to their large size and adorable faces. You can slide them over your hands and use your fingers to manipulate the movable parts. They can be used conveniently, even by young kids.
These miniature puppets are a rage with younger kids. The simple cap like design can be worn on each finger of the hand. There are usually no movable parts to worry about, you just need to bend your finger and modify your voice to switch between characters – a great buy for kids below five years of age. However, you may find your older kid also rooting for one of these.
As the name suggests, rod puppets have rods or sticks attached to the body or any other movable part like the hands. Usually, the puppeteer has to sit beneath a deck or platform over which the puppets move. In this case, the puppeteer moves the rods from below to control the movements. However, in some variations, the supporting rods may be facing upwards, in which case, the movements are controlled from above. This kind of puppet may not be suitable for young children.
Hand and rod puppet
This style requires the use of both your hands. While one hand manipulates the puppet’s mouth, the other controls the rods attached to the puppet’s hands.
String puppets or marionettes are the most difficult to operate. Each body part of the puppet is attached to a string. There are eight basic strings. However, some string puppets can have up to 30 attachments. You need a lot of practice in manipulating the strings for coordination of hand and arm movements. They are more suited for stage shows in a larger setting by a trained puppeteer.
You may have seen this one on TV shows, almost life-like; this puppet is supported and controlled by one hand. It can be carried around and operated easily. However, sounding like a ventriloquist may pose a huge challenge.