Activities for toddlers and babies
Children are big fans of puppets. Using puppets with young children makes their faces light up. Toddlers love to slide their hands inside puppets and bring them to life. Gather your puppets and have fun with this theme.
The puppets are hiding something
To introduce your theme, set several puppets on the floor, in the centre of your daycare. Hide tiny objects such as balls, figurines, or small cardboard books inside the puppets. Let babies and toddlers explore the puppets and discover the hidden objects.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
This activity is fun for children who are old enough to use utensils. To make lunch time interesting, slide a small finger puppet on the tip of each child's spoon. You can make your own simply by cutting a simple shape twice out of felt and sewing or gluing them together. Let children manipulate the spoons during lunch time.
Puppets at snack time
Pick a colourful puppet and slide it over your hand. Use it to serve each child's snack. Children will love watching the puppet distribute cheese and crackers, yogurt or cookies.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (smell)
Add a few drops of vanilla to your puppets. Gently move the puppets under each child's nose and let them manipulate the puppets to provide them with the opportunity to discover this sweet scent.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (touch)
Set a soft puppet next to your changing table. During diaper changes, have fun massaging or tickling babies and toddlers with it.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (look)
Photograph each child in your group. Print the pictures and stick a Popsicle stick behind each one to create personalized puppets. Laminate the pictures and the Popsicle sticks with adhesive paper. Have fun presenting these personalized puppets to your group, with constant supervision. Older children can manipulate the puppets.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Making cardboard puppets
Cut a puppet outline out of heavy cardboard for each child. Let babies and toddlers decorate their puppet using crayons, paint, or other arts & crafts accessories, depending on their age. Laminate each child's puppet with adhesive paper. Supervision is required throughout this activity.
My first puppet
Cut puppet outlines out of felt. You will need two for each child. Be sure to adapt the size of each child's puppet to the size of his/her hand. Let babies and toddlers paint their puppet. When they are done, sew both puppet sides together.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Establishing a connection with young babies
If you have very young babies in your group, this activity is great for establishing a connection with them. Use a puppet to explore non-verbal language. Have fun playing with the puppet, tickling children with it, and making it perform a variety of moves. Let children touch the puppet. They will appreciate feeling its soft fur in their hand. Puppets represent a great gift for new parents since they can set the stage for many bonding moments.
Invite children from an older group or older brothers and sisters to come play with puppets in front of your group. Show them how the puppets can be used to gently tickle babies. You may even ask older children to present a puppet show.
Puppet of the day
Pick a day and invite parents to bring a puppet from home to daycare. This will make several new puppets available for the children in your group. Let them explore and manipulate them as they wish. This is a great way to establish a connection between children's home and daycare environments.
The hungry puppet
This activity is perfect for working on object permanence with toddlers. Set several plastic fruits and vegetables on the floor. Slide a puppet over your hand and make it "eat" a fruit or vegetable. Afterwards, pretend to search for the missing item and invite children to help you find it. Act as if you are surprised the puppet ate the fruit or vegetable. Invite toddlers to manipulate the puppet and make it "eat" other fruits and vegetables.
Finger or hand puppets
Place a puppet on each child's hand and help them understand they have "one puppet" on "one hand". Repeat the activity using finger puppets and help children realize how "one puppet" goes on "one finger".
Set a few puppets in your reading corner. Children will love using the puppets to read a book and turn the pages.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
Slide a puppet over one of each child's feet. Encourage them to move their legs and feet to make the puppet move. Variation: You can also glue two large eyes on several socks and add tiny bells for noses. Supervision required.
Here is an original way to present a "picture book" to babies and toddlers and develop their vocabulary. Laminate several illustrations and pictures. Deposit them in a gift bag. Children use puppets to pick the pictures out of the bag and present them to the group. Name each item.
Early childhood educator
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