For Parents

For Parents


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** Our research group has not accepted any monetary incentives for our recommendations

We love puppets at the EIRG because they are a fun addition to playing with pretend food, and they can also span a wide variety of play levels. This puppet is one of our favorites because it can actually eat the food! If your child isn’t quite ready to play with dolls or stuffed animals, you may entice them to do some of those pretend play ideas with a puppet instead. You can start out with our beginning play ideas and move up levels as your child begins to get more comfortable with it. If the play gets too complicated and your child loses interest, try to engage your child again by tickling them with the puppet.

Simple and combination play:

  • Put the puppet on your hand and initiate a tickle game with your child. You can say sentences such as, He’s tickling you. It’s silly!
  • Place the puppet on your hand and pretend it’s eating your child by making eating noises. You can say sentences such as, He’s eating your nose. If your child gets into the game, have them request the next body part for the puppet to eat.
  • Stroke the puppet’s fur and model sentences such as, I’m petting the wolf. He’s soft.
  • Let your child take a turn putting the puppet on their hand. You can say, He’s on your hand.
  • Open and close the puppet’s mouth. You can say, Mouth. The mouth is open. Now it’s closed!
  • Open and close the puppet’s belly. You can make comments such as, The belly is empty.
  • Build a tower and then have the wolf sneeze, accidentally knocking the tower over. Oh no! The tower fell.

Beginning imaginary play:

  • Have your child feed the puppet a piece of play food (like these). The best part of this puppet is the food disappears from the mouth and ends up in the belly. You can say, He’s eating the apple.  His mouth is empty. The apple is gone! His belly is full.
  • Scoop up the play food with a spoon and then feed it to the puppet saying, Spoon. The orange is on the spoon. You’re feeding the wolf. The wolf is hungry.
  • Drop pieces of food into a cup and then pour them into the puppet’s mouth saying, He’s drinking.

Advanced play:

  • Set up a whole cooking and eating routine with the puppet. First drop pieces of food into a dish, then stick it in the microwave. When it comes out, stir it up with a spoon, scoop a piece out, and feed it to the wolf. Maybe the wolf spits it out because it’s too hot so the next time you have to blow on it. Or maybe the wolf only likes certain types of food so your child has to keep trying different ones until he eats it instead of spitting it out.
  • Act out other daily activities with the wolf. Maybe he needs to wipe his mouth and wash his hands after dinner. Or he needs to brush his teeth, get in bed, and go to sleep.
  • Act out the story of the Little Red Riding Hood, and have your child rescue some dollhouse people from the wolf’s stomach.