Updated: Jul 18
Puppets are useful in many ways in therapy, from expressing creativity, to storytelling, and externalizing emotions, they provide a safe avenue for kids to explore emotions. This is a round-up of creative ideas on how to make puppets, use puppets, and store them. I encourage all therapists who use specific techniques and skill in therapy to seek classes for proper training. Consider which counseling technique you are employing and how these ideas jive with that school of thought.
Puppets can provide a safe way for children to communicate on a deeper level by externalizing emotions to the inanimate object. Kids can also communicate through metaphor, reenacting life situations, processing difficult situations, and addressing fears through play. Also, consider making puppets to go along with some of your favorite therapeutic books. It can help kids stay engaged and feel involved in the process.
by Super Simple
This tutorial shows step-by-step how to make sock puppets. It also has a video tutorial for those of us who need a little extra help.
It appears there is a basic technique to making these little guys. Once you get that figured out you can make all sorts of different characters. I like the texture of the fuzzy socks. They are my absolute favorite when it gets cold. Sensory-seeking kids would love them.
If cheap and easy is your thing (it's my thing!) these would be great to use in therapy. Most of the supplies would be available already in your playroom. I was able to find clothespins at Dollar Tree. I got 32 for $1.25.
I have a similar idea of making dinosaur puppets in my blog post about ways to use dinosaurs in therapy. They are so cute! You could print pictures of all sorts of animals or characters to use in this way. I found the key is to find pictures where the mouth faces the side so that you can cut it open.
by S & S Blog
Speaking of cheap and easy, this paper puppet idea is simple but really cute! I like the idea of not having to make a store run for any supplies. You could make these from construction paper or printer paper that is colored in with markers.
I like dragons, but you could make all sorts of animals or characters using the same concept. You can also check out some dragon-breathing crafts in my post about interventions for anger.
These monster puppets are really cute. They would be quick and easy to assemble in session with kiddos. She has them for sale as a printable PDF in her Etsy shop. While they aren't free, they are pretty inexpensive.
From Mas and Pas
These little finger puppets made from pipe cleaners are inexpensive and easy. With a little creativity, you could make many different characters. This would be an easy way to make finger puppets to accompany your favorite therapy books.
Related Post: Creative Ways to Use Superheroes in Play Therapy
While not the most attractive puppets so far, these are practical and could be really easy for little ones to hold. These would be ideal for toddlers or preschool-aged children. They will likely hold up better than many of the finger puppet options and be easier to use.
from Fun Cloth Crafts
I am excited to print out some of these patterns and try them out. I love to sew and create things. Fabric glue may work for those who don't love sewing.
I am envisioning making little kits with the materials for each of these to have on hand in the office. My crafty kids would like to learn how to make them then we can do a puppet show. A blunt cross-stitch needle should go through the felt without any issue, so it should be safe for kiddos.
If you enjoy working with felt, don't miss my blog post about using felt boards in play therapy.
by Pink Stripey Socks
I've never thought of using a glove for a puppet, but this is a cool idea. This would be perfect to use with the Tucker the Turtle book. It is a free PDF download, great for teaching coping skills.
by Glued to My Crafts
Paper bags make cheap and easy puppets. The fold provides a place to hold the bag to maneuver the "mouth."
I've been using these for years. Sometimes I will use a directive approach and ask kids to make a certain type of character and other times I allow them to come up with their own ideas.
Paper bag puppets are often made in the classroom, making them familiar to kids. Many kids have come in already knowing exactly what they'd like to make and how to do it.
Bringing Your Puppets to Life:
Creating the Persona:
Related Post: Counseling Games to Promote Social Skills
by Teach Preschool
For practical use, these foam board puppet theaters are quick and easy. You could purchase a colored board to match the theme you are after. To keep it easy, you could just cut a hole and be ready to go, or you could decorate it and add a curtain to make it more appealing. When not in use, this could be folded up and stored away.
by Homemade Charlotte
This is a small, interesting idea to use with stick puppets. It would be hard to use with finger puppets.
by Best Toys 4 Toddlers
This one idea is great for small spaces and for traveling therapists. It is an all-in-one concept, storing the puppets and providing a stage. Pretty smart!
by Little Black Duck
This is an easy up and easy down idea. Simply hang your theater on a curtain rod in a doorway and you are set to go. It would take having an extra doorway in your room to make this one work, but is really cute!
by That's So Cuegly
This tutorial shows instructions for how to assemble a puppet theater using PVC pipe. This one considered the details. The interior top pole allows you to hang a background fabric for the puppeteer to hide behind without crowding the puppets.
This could be easily taken down and stored away when not needed then put back together just by pulling a few pieces out of the joints. It is lightweight and inexpensive.
by Pretty Life Girls
Using a cardboard box is a simple way to build a theater. This one has been painted and curtains added for aesthetics.
by Inner Child Fun
Shadow boxes are so cool. This could lead to a new level of expression. Sand tray miniatures could be used inside.
Related Post: Why Play Games in Therapy?
With all of these amazing ideas, we are going to need some storage solutions. These ideas can help you keep your puppets organized and displayed for the enjoyment of your clients.
by Kathy Did It
Short on space? Utilizing the back of a door can free up space and make the puppets accessible to kids. They will be on display for children to easily see.
by Teach Starters
If you have the space available, these paper towel dispensers would work. The puppets are visible and easy to grab.
If you have a large supply of finger puppets, this would be a clever way to display them. These spool holders are relatively inexpensive and available at most craft stores.
Puppets are such a powerful tool to use in play therapy. I hope this post has inspired you to use puppets in your therapy room. I would love to hear your creative ways to use puppets in play therapy.
Photo by Vlada Karpovich: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-shot-of-a-puppet-show-7356566/