Play is a crucial part of the social, emotional and imaginative development of young children, but not all play is created equal! Purposeful play provides more than entertainment as children discover, learn about and explore the world around them. It’s practiced in Primrose classrooms every day, like when teachers use the Primrose Friends puppets to create memorable learning experiences while encouraging good character and life skills.
When the school day ends, playing with puppets and stuffed animals can help the learning continue at home! Here are a few fun ways to practice purposeful play with your little one.
Host a Tea Party
Throw a tea party with your child and as many puppets and stuffed animals as she wants. “We throw family tea parties,” says Charlie, dad of two. “They love teaching the animals how to drink the tea and, more importantly, how to share it. We let them be in charge and it ends up being pretty funny to see what they come up with!” This fun activity provides opportunities to help children grow their executive function skills, work on table manners and practice memory skills as they recall the steps of preparing and serving a meal.
Bring Stories to Life
Puppets and stuffed animals provide easy opportunities to enhance your child’s reading experience. Dramatic play, more commonly known as pretending, is a fun, engaging way to grow your child’s language skills, self-confidence and creativity. Recreate your child’s favorite stories with puppets, or help him flex his critical thinking skills by creating stories of his own!
Have a Mini Biology Lesson
Playing with puppets is a great way to help toddlers learn more about animals and the world around them. “I ask my two-year-old what kind of animal each stuffed toy is, tell her a fact about the animal and ask her to tell us what sound it makes!” says Ellie, mom of one. You can also use these questions when discussing where different animals live!
Create Special Moments
Incorporating a favorite puppet or stuffed animal into everyday activities helps your child make fun, special memories and stay engaged. Enlist the puppet to help during regular bedtime routines or important moments, like a birthday celebration or time of transition. This will help your child form positive memories around events, no matter how large or small.
Reinforce Character Lessons
At Primrose, each Primrose Friend puppet is associated with a positive character trait – for example, Percy the Rooster models courage, Ally the Rabbit teaches responsibility and Katie the Cat helps teach cooperation. “At Primrose, we use our puppet friends to help young students resolve conflicts,” says Kathy Krohn, Child Specialist at Primrose School of Golf Village. “We’ll use two puppets to role play conflict resolution skills which can help the children feel more comfortable when resolving issues with friends.” You can help build on the character development lessons your child is learning at school with simple activities involving a favorite stuffed animal or puppet.
Want more fun ways to play and learn at home? Check out these four play-based activities!