Puppets are a THING. If you are an elementary music teacher you may love them and have a collection that rivals your stuffed animal collection as a child. Puppet collecting can be a fine art and choosing ones puppets that provide a purpose can sometimes be challenging. I’ve definitely bought puppets before I had a use for them so let’s talk about ways we can use puppets so that the one you don’t know a song for still has a place in your classroom.

(Full disclosure: some affiliate links but it won’t change your price. No pressure!)

Reluctant Students

This is my personal favorite. Take the pressure off students by letting the puppet be the person singing/answering/clapping/etc. and help your students feel more secure as they try new things. What puppet I’ve used for this depends on the activity. If it’s a specific game or song I’d use a puppet for, then I use that one. Otherwise I like to use these little googley-eyed puppets and pass one out to each student. It takes the pressure off immediately and they get caught up in the fun of having a fun little toy to make talk/sing/etc.

Another great use for reluctant students is to take the edge of you, the adult. So much of what we do is building relationships and part of that is getting students to feel our classroom is a space to be an allowed to try things. In addition, at the beginning of the year, some of our littles struggle with new adults. They may have gotten some good pep talks from their adults about the classroom teacher and met them on meet the teacher or something like that but other adults who have to teach them (you) may have been left high and dry. Letting yourself be a little silly with a puppet can help break the ice.

Specific Songs and Games

Pick a song with an animal. Bee Bee Bumblebee, Naughty Kitty Cat, Doggie Doggie, or Grizzly Bear. If you have any song that you have a puppet for, even if it isn’t a game, bring out the puppet and let someone pat the beat with it. It’s not a necessity, but it can be an enticement, another engaging element, and something just for fun!


Instead of telling students to raise their right arm, let your puppet demonstrate which arm to hold out. Let students try to mirror their movement in a follow the leader sort of way to the music. This works well if you have a puppet that you can move both arms and their head and is nice to have movement without moving feet.

As a Student

Let your puppet be the ideal student. They answer questions, demonstrate new tasks (hiding eyes, counting, singing vocal explorations), and be the ideal student.

I always love using Surprise Symphony for loud/quiet and having a pop up puppet is a great tool for this. My puppet get all nice and snuggly in their little hole and when that loud note hits, it wakes up with a start! I’ve always used this as a way of demonstrating what I want students to do (including listening ears and a silent voice) while they try it out for themselves.

Social Emotional Learning

Help students develop the language for their emotions. Let them engage the students, have conversations, and show their emotions on ideas, the music you listen to in class, and show appropriate reactions. Let the puppet describe their emotions.

Quick Hit Ideas:

  • The Radio Game: Students sing when the puppet is looking/popped out of its hiding place. Students sing when the puppet hides.
  • Flying Puppets: All the vocal explorations with birds, flying dinos, magic dragons, bugs and butterflies.
  • Reinforce the 4 voices

Quick Tips

  • Puppets should demonstrate positive behaviors that you wish to encourage.
  • Emphasize mouth movement on important words.
  • Practice your puppet’s voice before you pull it out with students.
  • Have a “primary” puppet that is part of your routine, introduces other puppets, and is the “Puppet in Charge”.

Aaaaand……Don’t ever wear a wolf and a chick puppet at the same time, forget that they are “real” and use the wolf to adjust the chick puppet on your hand and have to talk to a mom about why their child melted down when the wolf puppet started eating the chick puppet….cause that totally is a thing.


Here are some of my favs!

This fun pop up fox from my good friend Linda at Floating Down the River. Perfect for loud/quiet activities!

This pop up monkey puppet is one of my go-to puppets with the littles. He’s great for loud/quiet activities and I love helping him ‘literally’ come out of his hiding place when he’s shy at the beginning of the year.

My “naughty kitty cat” puppet!

These fun Old Lady puppets from Linda. She has tons of different sets of old ladies so you can sing any of the seasonal activities!

Finger puppets are great to add an engaging element without breaking the bank.

This Here is the Beehive puppet from Linda.

This king puppet is so fun. I inherited him and haven’t been able to find out where he is from. I love him for playing Good King Leopold.

Make sure you check out Linda’s shop because she has TONS more adorable finger puppets like these Five Little Pumpkins!

Check out some more awesome puppets here.

Hope this gives you some great ideas for puppets!

Melissa Stouffer-1

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