What age do kids play with puppets?
Things for pretending and building—many blocks for building complex structures, transportation toys, construction sets, child-sized furniture (“apartment” sets, play food), dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, puppets and simple puppet theaters, and sand and water play toys. These are good toys for 3- to 6-year-olds.
Play doesn’t just raise the giggle stakes, it’s actually essential to child development. In fact, play, from peek-a-boo to finger puppets contributes to a whole load of cognitive, physical, social, emotional and well-being benefits for our kids.
Even a simple activity like playing or making finger puppets with your toddler is loaded with positive developmental outcomes. Playing finger puppets develops skills that are perfect for the toddler age group.
Finger Puppets for Fun and Cognitive Development
Cognitively, finger puppets help toddlers to develop hand-eye coordination. They also help kids to understand different perspectives and to develop empathy. Finger puppets can be used to teach turn-taking and conflict resolution, as well as building fine motor skills.
When it comes to finger puppet play, don’t be afraid to prompt your toddler. Playing is a skill and not all children know how to do it. Parents can teach toddlers to be playful using finger puppets to act out a story that is relevant to their child. For example, if your child loves trains, make up a story about a puppet who loves trains to grab their attention. Change your voice tone, wiggle your fingers and use props for the puppets to jump on, run along or hide behind. Then let your child take the lead and create their own narrative.
Indeed, it might seem like simple fun, but research has shown that finger puppet play helps teach motor control, self-control, memory, social skills and vocabulary and language skills. Additionally, if you incorporate sound – through singing, for example, or inviting the child to make a sound for each puppet – this can prompt additional nerve growth. Science shows us that the cerebellum (or “the little brain”, which plays an important role in motor control and cognitive functions) is five per cent larger in musicians, suggesting it’s a great idea to combine finger-play, songs, and rhymes.
And don’t be rushed! Find sufficient time and space to play with your toddler. Schedule uninterrupted playtime and prioritise it – it’s essential to children’s development.