Toys are powerful tools! They are engaging, motivating, and fun. I’m so excited to resume my Toys as Tools series here on the blog! The last installment was way back in 2018! Now that I have a toddler, I have way more toys than ever before haha! I’m so excited to share some of my new (and old) favorites and how they can be used in speech-language therapy!
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Today’s toy is a classic – finger puppets! Finger puppets are such a versatile tool for speech therapy! They can be used across your entire caseload. Let’s explore all the ways you can use them to add more novelty into your practice.
Bring Books to Life
Over the years, I’ve talked about the concept of bringing books to life many times! I’m a huge fan of using props, book buddies, and puppets to bring the story off the page. Retelling stories is so much more meaningful when students have something to manipulate (ex. cards, trinkets, and finger puppets!). There are many finger puppets out there designed for specific books, however, you can truly grab characters from a random pile of finger puppets! It’s nice to have a variety of animals and people, that way you can use them for so many different books!
For example, there are finger puppets for the Five Little Monkeys! Five Little Monkeys is also a book series, so you can use these puppets for many different books! I have a little doll bed from Ikea that I use to re-enact Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed! You can also use a bowl to represent a bathtub, if you’re using Five Little Monkeys Jump in the Bath!
You truly get a lot of bang for your buck when you work on story retelling. Narrative language is a critical skill for academic success and finger puppets make it super fun to practice!
There is also a set of finger puppets for The Day the Crayons Came Home! I don’t think the set I have is still available, but I was able to find a gift set that comes with two! You can read more about how to use these puppets in one of my past blog posts HERE!
If you have a variety of finger puppets, they can be used as target words! Put a basket of finger puppets in the middle of your table and have your students search for puppets that contain their target sound. They can then use the finger puppets while they practice their words. Such a fun and easy way to make drilling more lively!
If you don’t have a large collection that is okay! Students can simply choose a finger puppet to use while they work on their speech sounds. It’s kind of like having a buddy with you! A little reinforcement can go far. You can also use them to represent cues, such as a snake for the “snake sound.”
I recommend checking out some finger bath puppets too! They’re made of plastic, so they’re super durable and easy to clean! You can spy two of my son’s bath finger puppets in the top photo (lion and elephant)! lol.. Next time you’re strolling through target, check out the baby bath aisle! You can also find cloth finger puppets at Ikea and in larger sets on Amazon!
Finger puppets would make great companions to my Articulation Readers’ Theatre sets! They’ll really help bring the scripts to life!
Students can practice these scripts and then put on a puppet show! These scripts can be found inside The Speech is Sweet Club!
You can also use puppet shows to tackle a wide range of skills. They’re especially great for your social skills groups. Students can practice turn-taking with their puppets, re-hearse conversation starters, act out expected and unexpected behaviors, etc! The possibilities are endless! Your students will love becoming puppeteers for the day!
Finger puppets come in a wide variety of animals, people, buildings, etc! They’re a great way to expose children to new vocabulary words. They can also categorize your finger puppet collection. For instance, they can sort farm animals and safari animals!
Students can also play a HeadBandz type of game to help build their vocabulary. They can choose a finger puppet and hide it behind their back and then describe it! When someone guesses the correct answer, they can then show their puppet and then use it to make descriptive sentences.
They can also match finger puppets to real life pictures! Truly, there are so many different ways you help expand your students’ vocabulary with finger puppets!
Bring songs to life! Children love music! There are so many fun songs that you easily bring to life with a basic puppet collection – Old Macdonald, Five Little Ducks, Five Little Speckled Frogs, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and the list goes on and on. They’re a great way to build vocabulary.
Songs can be use for articulation too! If you have a group working on /s/ blends – bring out your spider finger puppet and sing Itsy Bitsy Spider! They’ll love it and they’ll get tons of repetitive practice too. Five Little Speckled Frogs is also a great song that can be used for so many different sounds (/f/, /s/, /g/, /r/ blends, etc) and I want to note that you don’t have to have five frog finger puppets, all you need is one! Each time one jumps into the pool, your student can move the frog to another finger or pass it to a group member!
By the way, there are also finger puppet board books! My son loves the Five Little Speckle Frogs finger puppet book and he also has one about a giraffe (it was like $3.99 at TJMaxx)!
I hope these ideas are helpful and will bring a lot of fun into your therapy! Have a wonderful day!