Recently, we went to see The Tiger Who Came to Tea at the theatre. T already loved this story but this added a new dimension. After seeing our (frankly brilliant) tiger impressions, T’s auntie suggested we should put on a show of our own – and I decided that is exactly what we would do!
I decided we would make some simple stick puppets. This is such a fun activity for children and promotes the use of so many different skills.
I began by making some card cut-outs for each character. Since T is not quite three, I drew and cut these out for her. For an older child, you could increase the challenge by: giving them a template to draw around; asking them to cut it out themselves; or asking them to draw their own characters, using the book to help them.
Initially I had thought we would just colour these but then remembered I had a carrier bag of scrap fabric which would be perfect! T hasn’t done much with fabric before so this was a new experience for her. I selected a few fabrics and placed them in a bowl ready, and also prepared some orange and black strips of paper for the tiger.
T enjoyed selecting materials and sticking them on. We kept the book handy and I asked T to look at the illustrations before she chose her fabrics. Once she had chosen the fabrics, I cut them in to basic shapes for her to stick on. I’ve always found children scissors to be pretty useless when it comes to cutting fabric – so if you’re doing this with an older child, let them give the cutting a go but be prepared to step in and give them a hand if needed! We also added some pink foam circles for faces and googly eyes, as well as paper hair for Sophie and her Mummy, and a felt hat for Daddy.
Before long, they were finished. I think they look really cute and T loved acting out the story with them! Although, the puppets did disappear into the box, ahem, I mean, puppet theatre, before long and it appeared T may have forgotten she had an audience waiting to be entertained!
There is so much to learn from this kind of activity. Some of the skills T worked on while making and playing with these:
- Focus and attention – T kept at this for around half an hour, good by any toddler’s standards!
- Observation and attention to detail – referring to illustrations and choosing appropriate fabrics.
- Retelling a story – a really useful skill which helps children to sequence stories and to understand how stories are structured, which helps prepare them for producing quality writing of their own.
- Understanding of space – choosing pieces of fabric and working out where they fit best on the card cut-outs.
This activity can of course be adapted for any story, or children can create characters and stories of their own! Thanks for reading!