Using Puppets for Social and Emotional Learning

This training explores how puppets can be used effectively in children's learning to support social and emotional growth.

Program details

  • Priority area: Wellbeing (social and emotional)
  • Primary audience: Educators, parents/carers, children
  • Delivery mode: Resources (books, kits, manuals), online, group training, face-to-face
  • Strength of evidence: Level 4 – Emerging research evidence
  • AEDC sub-domains:
    • Emotional maturity – anxious and fearful behaviour
    • Emotional maturity – aggressive behaviour
    • Social competence – responsibility and respect
  • Item cost: Moderate ($200-$2,000 per person/item) to High ($2,000 per person/item)

Program description

Using Puppets for Social and Emotional Learning is presented by a speech pathologist, Lucia Smith, from Pelican Talk Speech Therapy. Lucia has used puppets successfully in her work with children for over the last 30 years. The training includes practical puppetry that allows for all levels of comfort and confidence and explores content that can be transferred to other mediums (such as book-sharing, play, art and music).

Download an overview of how the training, and a step-by-step guide for registration by visiting the Puppets for Learning website.

Through the training participants:

  • Learn how to use hand puppets in a way that is engaging to children (“making a puppet come alive”)
  • Explore current theories of social development and the levels of social understanding necessary for developing successful peer relationships
  • Learn about why children vary in their social and emotional capabilities
  • Explore the Social Puppets program (provided in the training) and discuss how implement it within a centre
  • Learn about Theory of Mind, differences in Theory of Mind, and how to promote it using a puppet
  • Explore theories of emotional intelligence and its development
  • Learn how to model emotions using a puppet in order to promote a rich emotional vocabulary
  • Learn how to demonstrate emotional regulation using a puppet
  • Learn how to set up play-based learning with puppets to further reinforce social and emotional learning
  • Learn how to use a calming puppet
  • Learn the Tommy Turtle anger management strategy
  • Learn how to adapt the above learning to other modes of play and book-sharing
  • Review neurodiversity affirming practise and trauma informed practise
  • Learn communication strategies to promote participation by children with low language abilities and additional challenges.

Training sessions can be completed in one of 4 ways. A Puppet Package containing 5 or 6 puppets, designed to complement specific parts of the program may also be purchased as part of your training.

Option 1: Puppets for Learning comes to you – host a face-to-face session

The training is hosted by your service for up to 30 participants (you may pool funding with other services in your area to access this training).

Suggested hours: 9:00am – 2:45pm (with 15 minutes for morning tea and 30 minutes for lunch).

Puppets for Learning are available to run face-to-face sessions throughout the year on weekdays, and occasionally on a Saturday or a Sunday. School holidays are also an option.

Contact Conni at to discuss dates for hosting and travel and accommodation charges.

Option 2: Host a custom Zoom session for your centre

If you wish to have a personalised training day, but wish to save on travel and accommodation costs, you can organise a training over Zoom (for a maximum of 25 participants). These can be run over one, 2 or 3 sessions during the day or of an evening. School holidays are also an option. Participants may sign in individually or as a group.

Option 3: Attendance at Melbourne-based workshop

Educators can attend a Melbourne-based training day at the Hawthorn Campus of Melbourne University. Sessions begin at 9:30am and finish at 3:30pm. Two sessions are scheduled each term. One or more educators can attend.

To view our 2024 training schedule visit Puppets for Learning.

Option 4: Attendance at Zoom training sessions

This training option is hosted by Puppets for Learning and runs across 2 sessions of 2 hours and 45 minutes. Participants are required to join both sessions. You will be sent the training manual and resources (on USB) prior to the training (and puppets if you choose to purchase them as part of your package).

To view the 2024 Zoom training schedule visit Puppets for Learning.

Detailed cost

Implementation considerations

  • Target population: educators.
  • Program/practice descriptions and details: during the training workshop, participants learn how to use a puppet in a practical and engaging manner with children. Specific and personalised feedback is provided. Participants also learn to create a puppet profile and puppet session plan applicable to their early childhood service. Participants are encouraged to complete this planning in their own time and send Puppets for Learning an example of their completed session plans for feedback and reflection.
  • Follow-up sessions are initiated by participants and prompt participants to be reflective in their current practice and plan for improvement. Any issues are discussed, and support provided to further the success of the programming. This training aligns with neurodiversity-affirming practice and trauma-informed practice.
  • Staffing: services should consider the cost of backfill in determining the cost of accessing this resource.
  • Supervision/coaching: phone-based, email-based or online follow-up sessions are available as an option to prompt participants to be reflective in their current practice and plan for improvement.

VEYLDF alignment

Item uses these practice principles

  • Reflective practice
  • Partnerships with families
  • High expectations for every child
  • Respectful relationships and responsive engagement
  • Equity and diversity
  • Assessment for learning and development
  • Integrated teaching and learning approaches.

Item responds to these sub-outcomes

Children become strong in their social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.