Kas Winters
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Kas Winters Puppets and Children

Puppets and Children—One Terrific Combination!
by Kas Winters, Mother of Family Ideas™

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Youngsters identify with puppets and playing with them is a special treat. Of all the workshops I’ve done with students over the years, the ones in which they create their own characters and put on a play using handmade actors get the very best reviews. Ideas for stories seem to come naturally once a child has a mouthpiece in their hand to do the talking. Creativity abounds and much can be learned in the process.

There are many benefits from this activity. Sometimes it will open up communication because children will  let a puppet do the talking when there is a subject they find difficult to address. Imagination abounds when kids are given carte blanche to develop their own characters and tell a tale they have created themselves. The artist in each puppeteer comes alive as they try different materials to make their performer. Sometimes it is as simple as a marker making a face on a fingertip. Because the puppeteers are not the focus, shows like this can even help shy little ones overcome fears of talking in front of an audience.

Here are some ideas for simple ways to make your own characters:

Finger puppets: Draw on a finger and move it around as you talk. You can add a ribbon, a hat made from felt or fabric, or other small details. If you have old gloves, you can create five puppets for one hand with a little paint, glue and miscellaneous trims or cut one finger off the glove for an individual character. Small scraps of fabric, fur or felt can be stitched or glued together to make these small actors too.

Paper plate puppets: The easiest way to do this is to cut one paper plate in half and staple the half to the top of another full plate. This creates a pocket for the operator’s hand. The full plate can be decorated with a face, hair, glasses, mustache or other features using crayons, markers, paint, or just about any art materials. Glue yarn on the plate for hair, add fur fabric to create an animal, or make hats, bowties, or additional accessories from construction paper, craft foam, or felt. It’s all fun. You can also cut and staple paper plates together to make unique shapes for critters. Often, children will write a script on the back of the plate so they can read it while performing the play.

Sock puppets: These have been around forever and most kids instinctively know how to use them. Making them is pretty easy too. Add a couple of eyes and the sock is ready to go. For a mouthpiece, you can fold an index card in half and glue it to the inside of the sock. When it’s dry, a hand can make the mouth open and close. To create personality, add hair, a mane, ears, or other features with yarn, craft foam, felt, fabric scraps, or construction paper. Children often come up with amazing designs for these!

Stick puppets: Sticks can be small craft sticks, tongue depressors, or even the free paint sticks you can often get at a building supply store. Cut out pictures of people, animals or other things from magazines and tape or glue these to the sticks. Move the sticks with the pictures and “Voila!” you have a puppet. Kids can also draw their own actors, cut them out of construction paper, or glue various craft materials to poster board or other stiff background material and then attach these to a stick. Puppets are operated by moving the stick up and down or sideways.

There are countless ways to make figures and both children and adults can enjoy the imaginative process of making their own for a show, or just for fun. There are some puppet pattern books on my Web site at: http://www.everythingfamily.net/puppets.htm and some ready-to-use puppets made by puppeteer, Linda Brittain at: http://www.everythingfamily.net/brittainbagspuppets.htm.

For May family ideas, go to:  http://www.winmarkcom.com/mayholidays.htm  To order my book with more than 5,000 activities that teach, and develop self-esteem and confidence while children are having fun, go to:http://www.winmarkcom.com/motherlode.htm.

Check out my NEW book Get that Book out of your Head and into Print

http://www.yourwordsinprint.com

 

Kas Winters, “Mother of Family Ideas”

602-789-9240
Winmark Communications & Everything Family
http://www.winmarkcom.com