When I join him, I sometimes have to resist the temptation to interrupt him---to steer him towards story lines that I find more interesting or push him to make the object he is using more believable. I try to stay quiet and listen to his instructions because I know the best thing I can do is stay out of his way and observe his little mind stretching in all sorts of new ways.
When he plays like this, he is essentially making a puppet show out of his world. He is bringing objects to life by moving them with intention and feeling. He is animating his world using sound, emotion, story, and character. He is naturally creating puppet shows on his own. He may not have an audience but he has the satisfaction of acting in an invented world on his own.
2. STORY: Make up a simple problem for the puppet to have and solve the problem—trying different solutions along the way. Maybe a ball can’t stop from rolling or a spoon can’t find it’s matching fork or a stuffed animal doesn’t know how to dance.
3. SOUND: Put on some music while you work---it can be very inspiring for your story. Choose a tone you want: playful, scary, dramatic: movie soundtracks are a great place to start.
4. AUDIENCE: Decide who will be your audience before you start working. Will you perform for siblings? Grandparents? Or will you videotape it? If you know who will be watching the show, you can make it fun for the audience by including some fun jokes only some people will get.
5. LET IT GO: If the formality of making a show isn’t working, no sweat. Just let your child enjoy playing with the stage and puppets collected. Some of the best shows are improvised and performed for an audience of one!
*This post was originally published on BabbaCo's BLOG, February 2013*
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