Solving Problems Using Puppets


Problem-Solving Puppet

(a technique used within an early childhood field placement)

By: Kailey Smith 

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Here is a similar example of the puppets being used within the classroom I am placed in this semester. The puppets are used to represent people who are faced with a problem.


Hello everyone far and wide, it’s me again, were going to jazz it up and talk about something a little more interesting that guru’s. So to get you all started, who remembers some of the activities they did in preschool? Do we all remember doing centers, and having snack? Or building with blocks or playing with our friends on the playground? I ask you these questions because today I am going to be discussing some of the techniques I see used in my placement. This placement does a lot of neat things to benefit our youth, but I decided to try and narrow it down to one to discuss today. So, one of the best techniques that I saw being displayed was the inclusion of puppets into curriculum instruction. I saw this technique as being one that was effective, because not only did it engage the students and their interests, but it also replicates some of the similar issues the students experience and show them how to problem-solve themselves.

Puppet’s Entering Curriculum Territory 

For my field placement I witnessed them using something called Second Step which was the curriculum of choice being displayed here.

Second Step: Not Just Better Students, Better People

Second Step® helps children sort through complicated emotions, make sound decisions, build positive relationships and manage strong feelings. Rooted in socia…

After clicking on the link and watching the video you all probably have a better idea of what this curriculum promotes. But in case you cannot access them for whatever reason, I will also give you a brief overview. So as an overview, second step is a social-emotional learning technique that tries to give both teachers and students the proper tools to excel both inside and outside the classroom. Because of this Second Step curriculum I was able to see the introduction of puppets, being done. Before this placement, I had never witnessed puppets being brought into the classroom to serve as a learning purpose. I have always seen them as a part of dramatic play. Therefore it was utterly shocking to see the two puppets, “Will and Sally” be brought out, and to see the students faces light up when they were actually learning about a lesson on how to play fairly. Because this was so shocking and amazing to me I decided to share it with all of you, future educators and beyond!!

So How Can This Be Effective? 

I feel like many of us may think, puppets, there is no way this is effective?! But NEWSFLASH we were all wrong. Puppets, if done correctly, are seen to teach students lessons within the classroom while keeping them engaged and focused, in infuses dramatic play with areas in social-emotional learning, and is a benefit to each child as a whole. As observed in my placement, the one puppet would present a problem, for example wanting to play with the same toy during centers. The teacher would have the puppets act out the situation, then the teacher would then stop the instruction to pose open-ended questions to the students. For example, what would you do if you were Sally? How might both Will and Sally play with the same toys? Or do you think Sally was very nice to Will when she just took the toy he was playing with? After the students respond then the puppets will act in the proper fashion, showing students the correct ways to act or how to “play fairly”. I thought this was genius and it is so easy that any educational professional could do it. I feel like puppets are underutilized and we should take advantage of this simple teaching technique.

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One More Interesting Fact 

Before I go I wanted to share with you all the last interesting fact I witnessed within this placement, that goes along with the puppets and the curriculum. This interesting take-away was that the puppets replicated the actions and diversity amongst the classroom. The instructor of this class was so I N T E N T I O N A L. Making sure her lessons with these puppets, matched the curriculum as well as issues she was seeing within her classroom with her students. So the lesson on playing fairly was about 2 students a boy and a girl who wanted to play with the same materials during center time. The girl was very upset and did not know exactly how to communicate or solve the problem so she just took the toys and went on her way. This could have been prevented if she asked to simply share, or take turns but that did not take place. So the classroom friends/puppets Will and Sally, reenacted a similar scenario to teach all the kids the lesson. It was pure genius. I loved how the teacher took something that was relevant and made it even more so. She discussed with me she tries to implement this within her classroom which is awesome. Like Will and Sally their are more puppet friends who help this classroom problem solve which is fantastic. Puppets that are all different races and nationalities. Seeing puppets that resemble these students and their cultures is great because it shows me that the teacher is acknowledging their differences and wants other peers to do so also.


So to wrap things all up, this was an excellent technique in my opinion. Using puppets to problem solve was genius, who knew that would be so effective amongst a young learning community. This infusion of dramatic play and curriculum was refreshing. If you would like anymore information on how to effectively use these strategies, you can access these links, by Cara Zelas, who discussed with scholarly articles how to use puppets in the classroom, or by reviewing Sam Patterson’s post on reasons why puppets will change your classrooms forever.  

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Penn State University future educators, using puppets effectively to discuss content area studies. Look how all the children are paying attention. Using puppets may be the change we all need in our classrooms.