Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fun at Hand: The Art and Magic of Puppets

Since ancient times, puppets have been used for theater, storytelling, celebrations and entertainment around the world. Monarchies and churches of long ago often used puppets to communicate to illiterate villagers and teach morals or lessons. Puppetry is not only a long-surviving form of artistic expression and entertainment, but it also continues to thrive in the theater, on television and in everyday play.

If you're an early baby boomer, you'll recall Howdy Doody, a marionette puppet that worked with Buffalo Bob on TV. Or you'll remember Sheri Lewis and Lambchops, a cute, cuddly hand puppet on The Ed Sullivan Show during the 1960s. Many people naturally think of Jim Henson and the Muppets who appeared in Sesame Street in 1969 with the comedic antics of Ernie, Bert, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. On a bigger scale, the hit musical The Lion King brought astonishingly giant puppets to the Broadway stage in a truly spectacular way.

Watching a puppet show certainly is fun for children, but making a puppet from scratch or playing with a ready-made one offers more than just entertainment value. Working with puppets is an important form of pretend play that is imaginative and open-ended. Children are free to create, speak and learn many important skills. Playing with puppets and putting on puppet shows helps children:
  • Express themselves with character and personality
  • Create and tell stories or act out plays
  • Develop speaking skills and confidence
  • Improve vocabularies
  • Listen and respond logically
  • Collaborate and interact as a group
I vividly remember making a puppet from scratch in kindergarten. We crafted a plaster of paris head and set it aside for a day. I thought it would never dry! I painted a face on it and glued some material inside the head to cover my hand. It was a fun childhood memory I have always treasured.

Today, there are many easier ways to make your own hand puppet and a larger variety of materials available. And there are plenty of great ideas to be found online. Look around the house for simple materials such as an old sock, fabric, paper bags and cardboard. Make a run to a fabric store or thrift shop for felt and decorations. Right before your eyes, you'll see a character take shape in your hand. Before long, the kids will be ready to hide behind the couch with some magic at hand and create a puppet show!

Or stop by Fundamentally Toys during our Anniversary Celebration and purchase a ready-made puppet at 18% off. We have cute, cuddly creatures and characters - and fun finger puppets too! RSVP for our marionette puppet show on Friday, October 18, 2013, at 7:00 p.m.(CT). Houston master puppeteer Jean Kuecher presents Rumpelstiltskin with beautifully handcrafted marionettes, lights, scenery and music.

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