I was talking to a friend yesterday who is also mom to a toddler. She complained that she’s getting a little bored with toddler activities: train tables, blocks, reading stories–over and over ad infinitim. I get bored too. Cavanaugh finds it fascinating to do the same puzzle ten times in a row and though I realize it is building skills for him that I truly want to support, I also need to consider how I feel while we’re playing together, so I’ve been looking for some new projects we can do together to give me a little variety and both of us some fun. I hope if you’re experiencing similar toddler challenges, our projects will give you some new ideas too.
Our big project this Mama Monday was making puppets. We have a lot of finger puppets and a cardboard puppet theater. Cavanaugh rarely wanted to play with either. Then he saw the “Puppets” episode of Blue’s Clues, which made the puppets into characters acting out a story, using funny voices. The video made me realize a couple of things: I hadn’t been trying to act out stories. I was just wearing the puppets and making them talk to each other–apparently, it wasn’t very exciting. Also, I realized part of our problem is that the majority of our puppet collection is composed of finger puppets made for grown up fingers so when Cavanaugh and I would try to play, he couldn’t do much except for balance them or tell me which ones to put on my fingers. So today we made lunch bag puppets that he can manipulate.
Here’s what you need: brown paper lunch bags and stuff to decorate the lunch bags with. Truly everything else on the list below is optional. But if you had an arts and crafts bin before your kid was even born and you get as excited going into Hobby Lobby as I do, you can use any of the following (and more) for your puppets.
- Popsicle craft sticks to spread the glue
- Googly eyes
- Metal confetti shapes
- Tempera paint and brushes
- Pom poms (the colored little cotton ball kind, not cheerleader pom poms)
- Construction paper
- Tissue paper
We needed three rounds to complete the project, which was great for a toddler’s attention span. First we painted the lunch bags. As they dried, we had snack and did puzzles. Then we decorated the bags with googly or confetti eyes, pom pom noses, yarn hair, etc. We let the glue dry while we read stories and sorted laundry and got slightly delirious singing “The Ants Go Marching.” The third round is for playing with the puppets.
Let me introduce you to Stripy, Dot, Snowman, Glitter, and Shape Searcher. You can’t tell from the pictures, but if you lift the little flap, there’s a filled circle mouth. You could also glue a tongue in there. Happy puppet-making!