I love reading stories with my girls, snuggling on some cushions with a blanket. But sometimes it's fun to do something a little... extra. My three year old love love LOVES to make puppets and act out stories, and her new favourite is Wombat Stew by Marcia Vaughan.
Complication Factor: A long time supporter of the KISS philosophy (Keep It Simple Stupid), I try to keep the creating part of our story adventures easy and simple. It's super fun to have a purpose for our arts and crafts, but I don't think you need to spend a lot of time and money crafting intricate things when kids don't mind if your dingo looks like a fox or your blue-tongue lizard looks like a gecko (and I am very aware of these facts!)
I promise you these puppets are not hard to make. I used felt, hobby sticks and a glue gun, and it took half an hour to make all of them (and that included the time it took my daughter to sort all the little eyes into groups by size). I didn't use a template; I just cut the felt out and stuck things together (which explains why some of my animals are little bit questionable).
Top row: dingo and wombat / Middle row: emu, platypus, blue-tongued lizard / bottom row: echidna and koala
Supplies: If you don't have felt or other supplies at home, seriously, just use what you have. These could be made with paper, glue/sticky tape and some sticks. I swear your kids won't mind.
Something Important: From experience, book play works best when you have more than just puppets saying lines. You need some kind of interactive element which gets your child involved in the storytelling. Wombat Stew works well because the story includes lots of ingredients being thrown in a pot. My daughter loved throwing our pretend flies and bugs and mud into our pretend billycan and stirring them up. This is what we used for our props, but you could use all sort of things:
- Billycan: we used a small metal bowl (but any bowl would do).
- Mud: we used cut out bits of brown felt (but you could use material or cardboard from a packing box).
- Feathers: we used some colourful craft feathers (but you could use pictures of feathers or go crazy and use real feathers!).
- Flies: We used rice, which I think is kind of excellent and likely something everyone has.
- Bugs and Creepy Crawlies: we used sparkly pom poms (but you might even have some bug toys, or you could draw them).
- Gum nuts: we used some orange pom poms (but you could actually just use gum nuts).
So that's it really. I don't have specific instructions on how to make these—just pictures and suggestions. But hopefully I've given you some inspiration to create your own puppets and props for Wombat Stew, or for another beloved children's book. Just remember to KISS. Kids don't need or want complicated. They usually just want to get to the fun part where you read/play out the story again and again and again and again!