The best puppet theatre toys for kids

by Eleanor Weaver |

We have fond memories of playing with puppets as children; telling imaginative stories, going on elaborate adventures, and putting on shows for the whole family. Puppets are a great toy for kids to encourage them to explore their creativity, play with language, and don’t worry, they don’t need to be quite so unnerving as the classic Punch and Judy puppets.

We’ve found some adorable, fun, and exciting puppet toys and puppet theatres for your little one to enjoy and play with siblings, friends, or on their own. Perfect for setting the stage, and we’re sure you’ll have fun getting involved too!

What age is appropriate for puppets?

From babies to adults, puppets are great fun to play with and will have everyone giggling with their antics. From pretend play to tummy tickles, Peek-A-Boo to puppets that double as soft toys, they're not only versatile for play but for child development too. Playing with puppets can:

• Help them to learn and develop language through conversation with the puppet and imitation

• Develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination playing with the puppet

• Build their social skills and self-confidence, using the puppet as a tool and for performance

• Be used to teach children about emotions, the world around them, manners, and more

• Practice their creativity and story-telling

Not only that, but they're a particularly useful tool to help children with Autism, ADHD, or anxiety who can use a puppet to communicate and build their social skills.

What are the best types of puppets for kids?

The world of puppetry is bigger than you think! But if you're looking for the best types of puppets for kids, these are the best:

Hand puppets

Hand puppets are the best puppets to buy for kids, full of personality and soft making them safe for most ages. They can double as play toys, often have moveable mouths, and are extra durable to withstand those wild story-telling adventures. If you wanted to make one yourself, you are best using a funky sock to make into a sock puppet, as they're trickier to make otherwise compared to other types of puppets.

Stick puppets

Stick puppets are super easy to make at home and it gives your child the freedom to make a puppet of their own design. They can simply draw their fun-loving character on a piece of card before you cut out and glue or tape to a stick. These puppets are only two-dimensional and can be a little flimsy but it's great for letting your little one's imagination run wild. You could even add moveable parts with split pins and extra sticks, or use a wooden spoon as a base for the puppet for extra support.

Finger puppets

Much like the hand puppets, these soft little characters will be fun to play with on a smaller stage. They're colourful, 3D, and durable, but their smaller size means they're more likely to get lost! They can't move their mouth like most hand puppets, but little finger wiggles will still give the illusion of speech. You can easily make your own using the fingers of old gloves.

Shadow puppets

Shadow puppetry doesn't leave much room for design, but your child will love creating shapes, props, or simply use just their hands to tell stories against torchlight. This is the easiest form of puppetry for children, though it may not keep their attention for as long as the others.

The best puppet theatre toys

We've put together a list of the best puppet theatres and puppets available to buy for little storytellers.

How to make a puppet theatre at home

If you fancy getting creative or want to create a home project for your little one, creating your own puppet theatre is really simple to do. Simply grab an old cardboard box, cut out a window for the 'stage' and a space for your child to puppeteer from, and let them decorate the box to create the theatre of their dreams! For special touches, you could add some stage curtains, stick in a 'back drop' to set the scene, and personalise with your child's name.

If you're looking for some inspiration, you could follow this tutorial from BBC Good Food, or try out the below tutorial and template to help you create your work of art.

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