“THIRD PARTY” Solution of Problems: This is a fantastic way to solve problems with groups of children. Using a “third party” material, you recreate the problem scenario, and invite the children to generate solutions. Puppets work well for this. Solutions may be presented in many ways, including speaking, drawing, manipulating the puppets, and so forth. When the “spotlight” is off individual children, and they are watching a “third party” recreation of their own issue, children tend to be very interested in the scenario and in generating solutions.
Example: During a preschool argument over which of two children should be line leader, the teachers called the children together and recreated the situation using rocks as puppets. Two “Rock Children” both wanted to be line leader. Many solutions were offered by the preschool children, such as having one child wait until tomorrow to be line leader, or having someone else be line leader, or asking a teacher what to do. Finally, a four-year-old suggested that the two children walk side-by-side so both could be line leader! The teachers had always thought in terms of single-file lines; it took a child to show them a solution in a non-linear manner.
The more unique the puppets you use to recreate scenarios, the more quickly you get the attention of your audience!
Puppets are versatile, engaging, creative storytelling partners! Here are some made of wool and fleece:
Here we have children telling a story with stuffed animals!
Can rocks be used as puppets??? Yes, indeed! It’s an original idea, and the children love it! Some early childhood classrooms regularly reenact classroom problem-solving with The Rock Children. Working with unexpected materials is an excellent technique! (You can also develop scenarios with The Twig Children, or The Pinecone Children, or The Crayon Children…)
Here are puppets made by the process of “felting:”
Susan Gately made these felted items:
Here are Red Riding Hood puppets made from paper mache!
These are wooden people made by Nancy Taylor from the top portion of wooden clothespins. You can order the wooden bases for these online, and then paint and decorate them.
Here we have some bears for Goldilocks and the Three Bears: solving the problem of “Who’s been sitting in my chair? Who’s been eating my porridge?…”
And “The Gingerbread Man” – made from felt! (Some problems can be solved by running as fast as you can…)
Making puppets from pine cones!
“The Snow Child” by Freya Littledale and Barbara Lavallee tells a tale of how a couple made a child out of snow! A puppet “snow child” made from wool complements the story well, as does an additional tale called “The Story of the Snow Children” by Sibylle von Olfers, dating from 1906. Here you see a child recreating the story with puppets.