We asked Claire Bagnall, our educational advisor to share her thoughts on the new addition to our Cubs level – puppets! And how this helps bring reading skills to life.
When I heard that The Bear Can Read were introducing puppets to their Cubs boxes, I was really excited about the benefits that these would provide, and the extent to which these would compliment those of the books that come with them. Books and puppets have more in common than you would think!
I have written before about the benefits of reading together with your child for their emotional wellbeing. Like books, puppets are also an excellent resource for both learning and social, emotional and mental health in a number of ways. The main reason for this is that they are, to a child, often less threatening than a person. Unless you want them to, puppets don’t talk: they just listen. It is impossible for a child to say the wrong thing to a puppet: it will always listen without interruption or judgement. As a result, puppets can be a really useful tool in encouraging shy children to express themselves, and in turn, develop their language skills whilst having conversations they otherwise perhaps wouldn’t have had.
Puppets can also take the role of a useful third person in conversations. When reassuring a child that their reading was great, why not ask the puppet’s opinion too? “I think you’re doing a great job. Let’s ask Robbie the Rabbit what he thinks….(Robbie whispers in your ear)…”Robbie thinks that was fantastic!” This extra person’s reassurance might be just what your child needs to feel sufficiently motivated and confident to keep going. Furthermore, their alternative ways of expressing things offers an additional opportunity for your child to acquire vocabulary that they otherwise wouldn’t have encountered, had it not been for the ‘third person’ in the conversation. Win win!
Finally, puppets are simply so playful! Many famous and successful children’s programmes have incorporated puppets, and with good reason. Puppets can be anyone you want them to be, have any personality you want them to and only your imagination limits their escapades! As a result, the possibilities for creative play are endless. Furthermore, the fun children have using their imagination to create adventures for their puppets now will form a fantastic basis for writing stories later. If reading is the prerequisite for writing, then speaking and play are the prerequisites for reading, and puppets help even the most shy of children to do just that.