Cue the curtain! It’s time for a puppet show.
The art of puppetry is a wonderful child development opportunity, allowing your child to use their imagination and tell stories. Children revel in visual storytelling, and a homemade puppet show in your living room will invite them into a fantastical world of wonder, comedy, drama and art. That you all created together!
Write a script
What kind of story does your family want to tell? Is there a recent memory or vacation you want to act out? Are there any lessons you want to share with your child, like making healthy choices, being kind to others, or maybe you are potty training? A puppet show will resonate powerfully with your child as opposed to a repetitive guideline enforced day after day.
Another way to build a script is from a favorite children’s book, nursery rhyme or fairy tale. My son loves Elsa from “Frozen” (don’t they all?) so using that story line in a puppet show would be so familiar with him that he’d immediately have interest and even feel inclined to tell me what happens next.
Even more simply, parents can use a favorite book as the narrative, and the child can act out the scenes. And include music! Having music helps as you transition from puppet to puppet.
Make the puppets
Enlist your child as the puppet master, and ask them what they envision for each character. It’s amazing the details they can come up with! Their wild ideas are such a beautiful peek into their imagination.
Sock puppets are a simple start, as are paper bags or wooden spoons. You can also use craft sticks, wiggly eyes and glue for your characters, or finger puppets are fun for children, too. There are many tutorials and ideas online, but if you simply choose the kind of puppet you’d like to build, your child will do a great job building from there. No time to build? Shadow puppet theater is always a hit!
Build a stage set
You’ve got your story and your characters, so where are they going to be? Is your set going to be in the forest or in space? On the beach or in a classroom? Ask your child what these environments look like and how you can bring that scene to life. You can build your set with cardboard boxes or even plywood and paint if you have the time. And building something more concrete will allow for further use! If you want something more temporary, you can hang up a sheet for doorway puppet theater, or set up behind a couch or table — just be sure to use a tablecloth to hide your backstage! Speaking of, be sure your puppets and props are organized back there in the order they will be used so your show runs smoothly. And feel free to tape up lines if you’re reading from a script or even cues for each scene.
Let the puppet theater begin! Invite friends and family over to enjoy the show, and set out pillows and blankets for the audience. Serve popcorn, too! Once the show begins, encourage improvisation from both the audience and your puppet masters. Ask questions of the audience, too, and use deep, exaggerated inflections in your voice as you perform. The sillier, the better!
If you’d like, start and end your show with a fun puppetry rhyme: “It’s puppet time, I cannot wait! I love pretending, I think it’s great!”
We can’t wait to see what you come up with.
About the Author
Angela Tewalt is a writer, storyteller and mother to two boys. She shares parenting stories and inspiration in Guidepost Parent.
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Topics: Ages 3-6