Best puppet

Pretend Play

Kids enjoy having their toy puppet characters interact with one another.

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Which puppet is best?

A puppet is a small, controllable figure of a person or animal. The original puppets were cloth bodies that fit over human hands like gloves. The puppeteer controls the figure’s movements from inside. The puppeteer uses one finger to control the puppet’s head and two other fingers to control the puppet’s hands and arms. The motions of the puppet’s head, arms and body make it appear the puppet is a live character of its own.

Little children are fascinated by puppets and use them as characters in imaginary play. Kids need no instructions or apps to play with puppets right out of the box. If you are looking for a classic sock puppet, take a look at the Melissa & Doug Zoo Friends Set of Four Hand Puppets.

What to know before you buy a puppet

Toys that spark the imagination are great for early childhood development. Although puppets are made for mostly young kids, there is no age limit for having fun with puppets. Puppets promote active play, which is especially important in a world where even small children sit for hours in front of the screens of electronic toys and devices. 

Who is the puppet for?

  • Parents: Many parents buy puppets to entertain and amuse babies, infants and toddlers. Other parents use puppets as more interesting ways to tell stories to their children. Parents who like their homes to be learning environments for young kids often follow teachers’ examples of using puppets to teach social skills like respect, positive communication and personal boundaries. Other parents use puppets as devices to encourage communication between them and their children and facilitate conversation about sensitive topics. 
  • Kids: Kids love them and can’t wait to get their hands on puppets of their own to play with. They enjoy talking with imaginary characters in pretend worlds. Babies and toddlers like colorful, simple puppets that smile instead of threatening. Preschoolers like more realistic puppets with more controllable heads, arms and hands.

Safety

The simpler the puppet, the safer it is. Small children should not be around puppets that can be choking hazards. If the eyes, nose and other features are sewn onto the puppet, they can come detached. Eyes, nose and features that are painted on or embroidered on are best for kids all the way through the toddler years. 

What to look for in a quality puppet

Types of puppets

  • Hand puppets: Hand puppets are sometimes called sock puppets. Simple sock puppets have no arms or legs, only heads. Sometimes they have wide mouths the puppeteer can manipulate with fingers and thumbs. More sophisticated sock puppets have arms and hands that the puppeteer controls, adding extra movement, animation and life.
  • Finger puppets: Finger puppets slip over the fingers and are the smallest of all puppet types. They are usually made of sock-like material that is soft and stretchy. Finger puppeteers can use just one finger puppet or as many as 10 at once. The movement of finger puppets is limited to waggling.
  • Mitt puppets: Mitt puppets — also called glove puppets — are five-finger puppets joined to a large mitten. Mitt puppets are easier to slip on and off than individual finger puppets.
  • Bath puppets:  Bath puppets are fun in the tub or at a sink. Built for playful bathing of little ones, bath puppets are made of soft terry cloth that parents suds up and use for gentle scrubbing. 

How much you can expect to spend on a puppet

Simple hand puppets cost as little as $10. Puppets made with materials of higher quality cost around $20 or so. More detailed puppets, officially licensed puppets and puppets used in performances cost around $50.

Puppet FAQ

Can puppets be controlled with strings and wires from above?

A. Yes, they can. But because they do not fit over the hand, they are not hand puppets in the strict sense. The term used to describe a puppet controlled by strings is marionette.

How can you be a more entertaining puppeteer with little ones?

A. Use your puppets while reading stories with your kids. Change your voice from character to character. Imitate animal sounds like growls and peeps.

How do you pick one puppet your child will like?

A. You can choose based on what toys and characters your child is interested in or you can choose a pack of finger puppets so one or more is sure to please.

What’s the best puppet to buy?

Top puppet 

Melissa & Doug Zoo Friends Set of Four Hand Puppets

Melissa & Doug Zoo Friends Set of Four Hand Puppets

What you need to know: These hand puppets all have smiling faces that kids two to six years old will love.

What you’ll love: These 14-inch-long puppets are made of soft, stuffed plush material that is cozy, cuddly and easy to wash. You get a tiger, elephant, monkey and giraffe to start your very own home zoo. These puppets are made by Melissa & Doug, a company with a reputation for making quality kids’ toys.

What you should consider: These full-bodied puppets’ small mouths don’t open and shut to simulate talking.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.

Top puppet for the money

Oiuros 20-Piece Cartoon Animal Finger Puppets

Oiuros 20-Piece Cartoon Animal Finger Puppets

What you need to know: Each of these 20 finger puppets is a different animal, and all have tiny flippers, tails, hands, etc.

What you’ll love: These cartoon animals are made of soft plush velvet cloth. The finger holes are snug enough for children to wear them. This set comes with a blue hippo, red lobster, purple unicorn, pink octopus, green turtle and 15 more fanciful cartoon animals, 

What you should consider: These finger puppets are made to fit smaller hands.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.

Worth checking out

Watinc DIY Puppet Making Kit

Watinc DIY Puppet Making Kit

What you need to know: This super kit comes with everything you need to make six colorful hand puppets. 

What you’ll love: Kids use their imaginations to create fanciful puppets of their own. This kit comes with six colorful felt mittens that slide right over kids’ hands. The box includes googly eyes, colorful pompoms and dozens of felt pieces that kids use to create characters of their own design. The combinations of eyes, ears, teeth, noses, horns, hands and feet are seemingly endless. 

What you should consider: Smaller kids will need your help with making these puppets.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.

 

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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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