What to do with puppets when your toddler doesn’t yet have the necessary pretend skills or language skills to put on a show?  Maybe they don’t even have the motor skills to make the puppet move yet.  Why even have puppets at home for your little one?  Excellent question!

They might not yet have the motor skills, pretend skills, or language skills – but YOU do!   No need to really hide behind anything or get under a table when we’re using puppets with little ones.  If you hide they may get scared anyway so best to just put it on your hand right in front of the audience.  Watching a puppet sing and dance can be super entertaining for a toddler.  Getting a “kiss” from a puppet (which can quickly turn into a game of chase) is a crowd pleaser as well.  What else?

Get out the pretend food and have your little one feed the puppet.  You can then decide if the food was “yummy…mmmmm” and have your toddler ask the puppet if he wants “more”.  What if the puppet forgets to open his mouth to eat?  Have your toddler tell the puppet to “open” or “say aaaaahhhh”.

Maybe the puppet tries to eat non-food items.  That’s a great time for your toddler to get to tell the puppet “no, no, no”.  Then the puppet gets to spit out the item “bleh,” “eeewww,” “yucky”.  Spit sounds usually get a good reaction from the audience 🙂

Allowing your toddler to command the puppet is a great way to allow her to practice sounds and simple words without the pressure of adult feedback.

Other commands you can model for your toddler to give to a puppet:

“sssshhh” or “night night” when the puppet is yawning and clearly tired

“stop!” when the puppet just keeps tickling

“come out” or “peekaboo” when the puppet is hiding

“go!” when the puppet is jumping

Puppets are also great ways to practice basic mouth imitation: big OPEN mouth for “aaahhh” and tight closed mouth for “mmm”.  Sometimes imitating a puppet’s sounds (syllables, animals sounds, car noises) can just be more entertaining than imitating a parent 🙂

Click on images to find puppets.  The zoo puppets with mouths that open (for feeding pretend food) are great!


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