APATA – The Australian Performing Arts Teachers Association

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Creativity and Puppet Play

Posted by Team APATA | Apr 21, 2022

Creative Play Puppets has sourced and supplied puppets to Australian teachers, schools, libraries, organisations, specialists, and families for over a decade.

Noel White, who leads the team at Creative Play Puppets sat down for a chat with us on the APATA Podcast:

How Creative Play Puppets began

Noel began selling toys as a side project while he and his wife raised their young family. When word got around that they dabbled in puppets Noel found himself wrangled into performing at his son’s kindergarten and was soon being asked to do more. Doing small shows opened their eyes to the creative play that puppetry instigated, and the teachers responded with eagerness.

Puppets and their educational possibilities became Noel’s focus and the couple’s Melbourne toy store evolved into Creative Play Puppets. The Creative Play Puppets team aim to be the “go-to” puppet supplier for educators and organisations across the country.

Chocka-Block with Puppets

Creative Play Puppet’s inventory starts with the smallest of finger puppets; nursery rhyme families; glove puppets; marionettes; storybook themes; animals of every kind; fantasy; magic trees; and of course their fabulous range of Silly Puppets. The Silly Puppet is a soft mouthed puppet that can easily be manipulated into showing all kinds of emotions, making them a hit with educators and practitioners alike.

We particularly love the Folkmanis range of realistic and fantasy puppets! Who wouldn’t love a Giant Clam, or a Mini Praying Mantis, or even a Three-Headed Dragon to talk to and go on adventures with!

mother with a puppet on her hand laughing with grandmother and son

The History of Puppet Play

A brief history of puppet play can be found in Kelly Richmond-Abdou’s article on mymodernmet.com, How Puppetry Has Put on a Spectacular Show for Centuries and Continues to Shine. Some of the earliest evidence of puppets date back to Ancient Egypt, Greece and China.

Criss-crossing the globe in search of stock for Creative Play Puppets Noel found Europe’s culture of puppetry particularly endearing. Prague and its historical theatres and marionette shows blew Noel away.

Europe has a long-standing appreciation for puppetry and recognise it as an historical artform. The puppetry buskers, sought after artisans and puppet makers, not to mention the theatres are what Noel hopes we can one day see in Australia, over time of course.

Germany’s Spielwarenmesse, the massive Nuremberg International Toy Fair is four times as big as Jeff’s Shed (MCEC) and can have around 40 puppet exhibitors – a puppet stores’ dream!

His travels have inspired the store and, though Covid has slowed down their search for the ultimate inventory and inspiration, CPP has hundreds of puppets to choose from. Which is exactly what you want from Australia’s biggest and best supplier of all things puppets!

Why puppet play is a serious business

Grant Larson Productions have a fabulous article on their blog titled: The Power of Using Puppets in the Classroom.

Puppets can set the stage for learning by grabbing students’ attention. In children’s eyes puppets aren’t like teachers and adults, they’re more like peers.

When a puppet asks a question, has a problem, or tells a story the child relates to them in a totally different way than if they were talking to an authority figure.

That relatability can transform the entire atmosphere of a classroom. Puppets can cross the bridges of race, gender, and abilities “overcoming the same obstacles that students face.”

“Puppets are a wonderful visual aid for children, retaining their attention and encouraging them to participate in class. Children are more willing to learn when they are having fun, and puppets are a gateway to opening up the mind and inviting knowledge in.”

Puppeteer and performer Rebecca Dostal uses puppets to deal with trauma and anxiety. She brings her elderly puppets Ruby and Beryl to the Big Reach QLD Festival with roving conversations in late May.

“I found that if you give a puppet to somebody and you give it to them long enough, they’ll let the puppet speak for them because they’re too shy.” Rebecca explains in this ABC News article: Surviving Trauma and Anxiety with Puppets.

children watching a puppet show created by other children

APATA Podcast with Noel White from Creative Play Puppets

Noel and Creative Play Puppets hope you will consider the opportunities that puppets may create in your classroom, or program. Listen to Noel White chat with APATA CEO Yolande Smith and pop over to Creative Play Puppets to browse the numerous puppets on offer. There truly is something for everyone.

Transcript available on the APATA podcast with Noel White: Listen HERE


We hope our chat with Noel inspires you in your exploration of puppet play!

Creative Play Puppets: www.creativeplaypuppets.com.au

Facebook: @creativeplaypuppets

Instagram: @creativeplaypuppets

Contact: info@creativeplaypuppets.com.au




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