For Speech Therapists, puppets are a great resource to have in the toolkit and can be used to support the teaching of so many skills and concepts.
Since buying these new buddies for my toolkit (don't you just love Aldi Special Buys!) I've been thinking about all the ways to use them in therapy. Puppets are also a cheap and easy way for parents, carers and teachers to take therapy ideas into the home, preschool and school environments.
- Peek a boo - attention and engagement is such an important underlying skill for all children to develop before language emerges. Playing hide and seek with puppets encourages attention, engagement and helps the child learn how to reinitiate the game.
- Speech sounds - naming the puppets can present an easy way to weave targeted speech sounds into the play, 'Kiki the cow' encourages practice of the k/c sound and the puppets can take on any name you like. Having the child speak through the puppet when practicing speech sounds can take the pressure off and the adult can remind the puppet how to say the sound, rather than reminding the child.
- Action words - learning action words (verbs) develops the child's ability to expand their sentences. Have the child tell you what to make the puppet do and then see if they can do it themselves, have the puppet eat, sleep, jump, dance, sing!
- Pretend play - being creative and developing imaginative play skills starts with familiar sequences. Play out familiar sequences like sleeping and waking up, going to the shops, eating dinner to start with and expand to less familiar or novel ideas like visiting the doctor, going in an aeroplane or flying into space!
- Social skills - puppet play can be a great platform for teaching social skills. Playing out scenarios between 2 puppets supports the child's ability to cue into appropriate social behaviours. Targeting challenging situations for the child through puppet play helps to tackle the challenge in a less confrontational manner. If losing in games is an issue, have the puppet get upset after losing a game and support the child to reflect on what the puppet could do instead.
- Feeding - so many children struggle with feeding and fussy eating. A great addition to feeding therapy can be playing with food. Feeding the puppets play food, having a tea party and showing the puppet how to bite and chew are all great strategies to support feeding challenges.
Speak to your Speech Therapist about other ways to support your child's goals using puppets!