Thursday Teaching Tip: Play with Your Family Stick Puppets
When our oldest was just a wee boy, we were missing a big chunk of our family in faraway places like Ohio and Florida. Having photos of them on the walls was good to help remember, but I wanted a way to be able to keep the memories of them handier , and came up with these family play puppets on a stick. (Please forgive the 1MP camera photo from yesteryear.)
I basically took photos of each of the family groups (grandparents, us, aunt/uncle, cousins), glued to cardstock, laminated them (you could use contact paper), cut them out, and glued them on to a preK popsicle stick, and then glued a magnet on the back of that so that they could be stored at toddler eye level. Then we could play with them, naming family members, and have little games (there were others, but the Uncle David clan was sadly drooled upon so badly by a little Connor one afternoon while I was looking, and sadly, I couldn’t save it!). They became focus for play as he got older for visits to the family when playing cars, etc. Once Aiden came around, Connor was able to use the stick puppets to teach Aiden about his extended family, and keep their faces and memories alive for longer than just the too-few visits we’d have each year.
This was such a quick and easy project that lended itself to some great storytelling time for our toddlers. I keep them in the baby box for down the road, because I can’t bear the thought of getting rid of them – not only because they are family pictures, but because of the memories shared with each of the boys as we played with these. When my Mom passed away, it was also a great way for me to share time with the boys (especially Aiden), of having something to show them and interact with them of Mom, to help preserve what little memory of her he would have. We’d give her a ‘hug’ while we played, and it was always so precious.
You can also do these as animal stick puppets for your toddler as a way of learning to name and play with animals without having to go to the zoo! I think doing alphabet stick puppets or number stick puppets would also be a really clever way to use this concept to help with number and phonic enrichment!