Play idea: Puppets – Ngā karetao

Puppets are a way for children to act out events and other people.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • All Early Learning Services 
  • Educators, Teachers and Kaiako
  • Service Managers
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau

Children learn through play. Below is some information about a play idea for your children.

Puppets can be bought or you can involve children in making their own. Puppets can be used on the finger, the hand, on a string or on a stick.

Puppets can help children to

  • develop hand, eye, arm, finger and body coordination
  • be creative and expressive
  • express moods and feelings
  • begin to develop storytelling skills, tell stories and share ideas, play with words and movements.

Adults can support children by

  • talking to them about their puppet play
  • helping them make their own puppets
  • telling them stories that can then be retold using the puppets
  • telling the stories or rhymes while the children act them out
  • helping with music and props
  • providing a range of interesting puppets and puppet-making materials
  • using puppets themselves.

Providing for puppets

Make sure puppets are available at children’s height. Start simply by using puppets to tell a well-known story such as Little Red Riding Hood or How Maui Tamed the Sun or using puppets with music and songs the children know well, such as Five Little Ducks or Heads Shoulders Knees and Toes. Encourage children to use puppets themselves. Puppets can be useful for settling children.

Use puppets with music and songs the children know well, then encourage children to use the puppets themselves.

Ideas for equipment

  • different materials such as paper bags, bottle tops, felt, pipe cleaners, cardboard tubing, old socks, paper and pompoms, glue and anything else that can be used by children to make their own puppets
  • ready-made puppets of different shapes and sizes
  • a place to hide behind to do puppet shows
  • a tape/CD player or music source.

Te Whāriki

Puppets can be used to support learning across all strands of Te Whāriki. In particular, they support the Communication strand, where children discover and develop different ways to be creative and expressive. Puppets can be used for telling and retelling stories.

This play idea has been developed for playgroups. Feel free to use it at other types of ECE service, but make sure you're still following the regulations and licensing criteria that apply to your service type. Parents may also find this information useful.

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