To me, there is nothing more exciting or entertaining than an animal puppet. I grew up playing and cuddling with the puppet toys my family had, so I understand the wonder they can bring into playtime. When I was too little to use them myself, the adults would bring them to life (which they definitely enjoyed), and as I grew, I learned how to control them, and how amazing my own imagination was. They were also amazing as cuddly toys, something soft and just the right size. My Auntie had a few at her house, and I would always grab the little lamb one for comfort. I grew up in the UK, watching Punch and Judy shows at the beachfront. They are something from the past that’s kept going, one of those strange cultural things I didn’t appreciate until it wasn’t there anymore. But the animal puppets were definitely my favourite, and puppets are one of the things in my childhood I look back on with great fondness, and know I will introduce to my children. There is a magic to them that not only creates amazing imaginative play for children, but reminds adults of the wonder of childhood, and that playtime is meant to be enjoyable for them as well.
None of the ones I had as a child were anywhere near as impressively detailed and well-made as the Folkmanis range. Even as an adult, I instantly fell in love with them when they came into store, and so does everyone who walks through our doors. These puppets have the magical wonder all animal puppets should, with the incredible details, quality materials and craftsmanship that Folkmanis has always provided. There is already life and imagination within them, waiting to be let out.
Puppets have a number of benefits for young children, including imaginative and open-ended play, and fine motor skills if they are playing with the toys themselves. And because you are the ones who have to play with the toys along with your children, it’s important you enjoy yourselves as well, so the wide range of animals available make it easy to pick one you’ll love. The hand puppets are a joy, and there’s plenty to choose from.
There are smaller ones, perfect for little hands, such as the Little Lion and Little Wolf. They are classic small hand puppets, with only the top half of the animal. Other small ones, such as the Peacock or Flying Squirrel, are full-bodied puppets full of details and textures. The Flying Squirrel and Hedgehog are examples of small puppets designed for easy one hand control using all five fingers. This gives children the opportunity to flex their hands and strengthen control.
There are medium sized puppets that offer more control and different animals that are great for cuddling and playing. The Sea Turtle and Baby Chimpanzee have great details and are easy to control the head and front limbs. The Snowy Owl is an example of one that has more complex control, great for improving puppetry skills, motor skills, and imaginative play. You can control the wings, or fold them back and velcro them into a perched position, and the head is able to be swivelled 360 degrees.
The larger hand puppets are incredible, and make great toys for children of many ages. Though much bigger, they offer all the joy and comfort of a soft toy, with the added benefit of being able to bring them to life even more than any plush toy ever could be. The Wombat, Sheepdog, and Labradoodle are gorgeously made large puppets that make imaginative play even more exciting.
Each animal has it’s own personality, and you can choose between extremely realistic, or slightly more whimsical ones.
There’s also the stage puppets, which are just the head and neck of the animals, and perfect for a puppet show. There’s more to them than meets the eye, as the moment the show begins, they come alive and create all new adventures and stories. The Elephant Stage Puppet is amazing, with a hidden pull-string enabling the trunk to be moved and curled to add something extra and exciting to the whole experience.
Most of the puppets come with the regular control of the mouths and front limbs, but some have extra special features. I’ve mentioned the Snowy Owl and Elephant Stage Puppet, but there are so many unique additions for quite a few puppets that take them beyond the traditional. The Hedgehog is able to curl into a ball; the Tortoise will pull back completely into its shell, making it perfect for peek-a-boo; the Sloth can cling to anything with its velcro feet. Even\ry puppet, whether it has extras or it’s just a simple one, creates endless possibilities for play.
There’s just so much to love about puppets. They are a creative and beneficial toy for children, and a great source of entertainment for the whole family. I have many amazing memories of puppets from when I was little, whether someone was bringing them to life for me, or I imagined them to life myself as I grew. I’m glad I get to carry those memories with me, and I know they helped my imagination and growing mind more than I could ever have understood as I was having fun. I hope your children can love them too, and keep that wonder and joy in their hearts as they grow.