Teaching with puppets

Asian girl with male teacher using finger puppets

This blog has tips on teaching with puppets. It’s a great idea to teach English with puppets because they fascinate infants and preschool children. So, cash in on this attraction, and use them to help you teach English!

Your puppet is your ally

Let the puppet be your ally, a bridge between you and the children. But, of course, your puppet only speaks English, which motivates children to communicate with it.

An inspirational story

Here is an inspirational true story about teaching with puppets. One of my teacher customers told me of her experience teaching English to one of her children.

“I’ve used a puppet at home with my youngest child. The hand puppet can only speak English, and best of all, he says some silly things! I talk to my children in English, but they know I speak French fluently, so they talk back to me in French. It was a problem to get them to talk English.

However, quite by chance whilst going through some boxes of old toys with my youngest son Max, we came across a Pinocchio hand puppet. Max, who was three and a half at the time said in French, ‘can you make him talk Mummy?’ I replied, ‘of course!’ and put on the puppet. But it spoke to Max in English saying, ‘Hello, what’s your name?’  (I gave him a funny voice to make it different from my own.) And my son replied in perfect English, ‘My name is Max, what’s yours?’

I was astonished. Every time we take Pinocchio off the shelf, Max always communicates with him in English.  And sometimes, if he’s not sure of a word, he asks me first, then he tells Pinocchio.

Pinocchio does silly things and at times, he mixes up the names of things. These mistakes make Max laugh and he corrects him. But sometimes Pinocchio contests and asks me if that’s right and so I tell him that Max is absolutely right. Pinocchio is Max’s best friend; he even talks to him on his own when I’m not around, and it’s all in English, amazing!

Using puppets at preschool

Because of this beautiful experience with my son, I would highly recommend teaching with puppets at preschool. Unfortunately, I couldn’t use Pinocchio when I taught English to Max’s class because Max was too attached to him. However, I did use a small teddy bear when I was using your Hetty and the Lion story. My pupils loved him and had no problem repeating words to ‘teddy’ and answering him when he asked questions.

Teddy was always hungry and the children loved ‘feeding’ him with the flash cards. I would have teddy talk in my ear, and I would repeat what he said, for example ‘ice cream.’ Then, all the children with Ice cream flashcards would give them to Teddy and he would devour them making lots of noise! The children found this hysterical.

A child pretending to feed cake to a teddy bear while adults watch in the background
Teddy is hungry!

Beware of scary puppets

A teacher complained that her preschool children were afraid of the expensive puppet she had just purchased, so I asked her for a picture. When I saw what the puppet looked like, I could see why it was so scary to the kids, since it even scared me! (But then I am a total wuss when it comes to being scared.) This puppet had a gaping open mouth, startled eyes, creased mouth corners, and huge crinkly hands. It reminded me of the baddie in Batman (The Joker). So, if your pupils do not like your puppet, put it away immediately and try a different one the next time.

a puppet that scared preschool kids and the joker in Batman
The puppet that scared the kids!


Helpful Resources Related to this Blog

Teaching Toddlers English

Teaching Preschool Children English

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