PUPPET TALK- I AM A TIGER!
You can do SO much with puppets to teach communication! Children love puppet play and we can certainly make them love puppet talk (if those puppets are manipulated properly). Puppets are inexpensive, easy to wash, and can be turned into super interactive (read dramatic) characters if only we help them come to life. What can you teach using puppets? What can't you teach? Here are some ideas:
1. TEACH imitating sounds and words- many children are way more receptive to repeating sounds and words when these are spoken by a favorite puppet (powered by your theatrical voice).
2. TEACH social routines- What do we say to friends when we meet them/ leave to go home? What do we say to others to show our appreciation? What do we say when a friend is upset or scared? All the socially fitting (and expected) phrases are the perfect targets for puppet talk -so practice away. Again, children are more likely to imitate your words and phrases if they are "removed" from their physical body and are magically placed into a puppet. I am no longer me, I am a tiger!
3. TEACH asking questions- you'll hear me say this over and over- initiation is so important to teach so that our kids stop being just passive responders. We need to empower their little mouths to initiate communication and be advocates- well spoken, interactive, and heard by others no matter where they are (home, school, play ground). Asking questions IS initiation. Asking questions is part of building conversational skills and essentially building relationships with our listeners too.
4. TEACH empathy- by acting out familiar situations in which we all find ourselves sooner or later in life. Improve your child's ability to recognize, understand, respect, and work with various emotional states (e.g. maybe your zebra puppet is feeling sad because.....fill in the blank- what can we say to the zebra?). There are many ways to incorporate feelings into puppet play and puppet talk. The 'emotional talk' can always be simplified to fit the developmental needs of your child.
Finally, puppet play is an excellent opportunity to step away from the screen (something we all need a break from these days!). Have that family play time and create fun educational interactions that promote and hone your child's communication skills. As little as 15 minutes of this theatrical interaction will get you lots of speech-language exercise and a way to reconnect as a family. Be creative! As always we are here to provide more guidance if you have questions.
Thanks for reading and happy talking!