Hugh Grant, Emerging Language, & Finger Puppets!

If I were doing a product review, or working at a fancy, income producing blog, I would shine the spotlight on this new company I’ve become rather smitten with.

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I found Mudpuppy just now when I flipped over the (bright minimal) packaging which held together my kiddos’ finger puppets. They were a great find at this teeny mom-n-pop bookshop in my mom’s neighborhood of Mt. Airy. I loaded them onto the counter with my other quality splurges and enjoyed unpacking them, back in Tokyo. I used the word, “splurge”, only, these were just over five bucks and are really quite substantial.

Do you know what I mean when I write, “finger puppets”? You slide your index & middle finger in & voila! Legs. Use ’em as puppets to play with your baby or toddler. Sing, speak, read, or tickle, dance, to your baby. They are so visually appealing. Older kids/toddlers will admire the front and backs of the finger puppets and may start telling their own free-thought up stories or re-enact other tales.

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I am already plotting a pirate party for my son, or perhaps these puppets would serve well as party props and then gifts following a Peter Pan party! I spot Smee, Hook, and the ticking of the croc.

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I bought a woodland/forest animal theme, but there are terrifically scary monsters, enchanting mermaids, strong hometown heroes, les characters  classique de Babar, prancing pastel ballerinas, these awesome pirates, princesses, and really really cool robots. Robots! Muddpuppy also has shadow puppets…ooooooh, right?

Most homes are not in need of new toys. Usually, parents are hard pressed to find free space, or even a walkway in between scattered Legos or accumulated stuffed animals. Living rooms are no longer places suitable for adults and every home seems to be hurting for a spacious playroom. Just last night, my husband and I conspired on how to get rid of some of Kariin’s larger stuffed animals and we wondered what she would actually miss/notice missing if we do not call attention to the pitching fest/giving away spree.

We clearly don’t have room for space-eating fluff. But quality toys that promote language development? Toys crafted by artists? Toys like these Mudpuppy finger puppets, made of 90% recycled papers, free of phthalates (usually found in plastic/children’s’ toys which may cause hormonal/birth defects), and printed with gorgeous nontoxic inks? This is the kind of company I want to get behind and support. Plus, how room can finger puppets, even the entire collection take up? Small tools, big linguistic and creative benefits.

I know. I always bring up language. I’m a teacher and the mother to two bilingual kids. Promoting language is a big deal, big business, and big fun.

They’re just playing. How does that promote language? Well, we know oral language comes first. Storytelling, role playing emerges well before written language and should be given room and the space to grow. Making your home sing and buzz with sock puppets, finger puppets, stick puppets, shadow puppets is like hiring a petting zoo. It brings in materials for play. It gives kids the props they need to support original thoughts, creative windows of time. You’ll hear rich vocabulary and big ideas. This is different play than when they use characters from a movie to re-enact the same scene they’ve xeroxed into their mind. This isn’t merely Ariel or Elsa mirrored alongside the DVD, nor is it the sorta grunting, minimal verbal interaction of firing lasers and guns. This is when you will her them process all the language of their week, all the language from story time…if you support it. This convo reminds me of this post, here

I tell parents I work with to get back to the verbal language interchange. It never hurts to build up spoken language, especially if you are aware of using & explaining rich language and a wealth of stories. What is put in & planted will again emerge. Record it, celebrate it.

Literacy is supposed to be fun, right? Copy the great sentences and phrases your child cooks up. Read it back to them. Show them the connection between their verbal speak and the written word. Do what we teachers call a “Think Aloud”, as you sort of stumble through your thoughts like in a quirky Hugh Grant flic. Can you picture him bumbling around with you and your kids? You know, like, “Oh, right, right! I need a capital G here and oh, dear, what was the word you said after “and then”?” I hope you said this in your best & most British Mr. Grant impersonation. With all this playing, reading, & dictating, you’ll have a short scrip, what we teachers call “Reader’s Theatre.” And then you’d have to invite Mr. Grant to stay for tea & then a full dinner.

There are so many ways to play with these little puppets. I’m looking forward to seeing what my daughter does with them today. Instead of turning on the TV for that little after school/before dinner window, I’m gonna toss her these.

Boom http://mudpuppy.com

Why aren’t I in advertising?

Love & fun,

M

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3 thoughts on “Hugh Grant, Emerging Language, & Finger Puppets!

  1. What a great toy!! We don’t allow kids to watch TV on school nights. I don’t allow them to use electronics, either. I want them to be creative and I am alway on the look for fun stuff for my kids to do. These look so cute!!!

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