Puppets can be a very useful tool in a VIPKid classroom. However, if you’ve tried to buy one lately you might have found that puppets, especially those with moveable mouths, are fairly hard to come by at your run-of-the-mill big box store. When you DO find some puppets to choose from, they are not cheap!
What’s a budget-minded, penny-pinching VIPKid teacher to do?
Today I’m going to share some of my favorite ideas for finding (or making!) inexpensive puppets for your VIPKid classroom.
Before we get started, though, I want to talk a little bit about puppets with moveable mouths.
Does it matter if your puppet has a mouth?
It might NOT matter to you, and that’s okay! If you’re cool with a mouthless puppet, your budget-friendly options are MUCH more numerous!
I prefer to use a puppet with a moveable mouth because it is easier for young students to see that you’re using the puppet as a model for communication, rather than holding up what appears to be a static stuffed animal to the screen.
These puppets can be a little harder to find, so that’s why I’m writing this post. These are the places that I’ve been able to find budget-friendly puppets with moveable mouths.
This is my number one suggestion because this is where I’ve had the BEST luck. The puppet that I found for my VIPKid application process was a whopping 25 cents at a local thrift store. Yes, I had to dig to find it and yes, it wasn’t exactly what I needed (or wanted).
With a little creativity (a.k.a Sharpie and scissors) I was able to turn Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer into a convincing black-nosed puppy by snipping off its antlers and coloring the nose. (Can you see him below??)
I thought my little puppet find was a fluke since I had such a hard time finding puppets in big box stores.
Since getting hired I have found puppets at various thrift stores almost every time I go thrifting. The other puppets above are some of my finds. You just have to keep your eyes peeled and be willing to dig! This is actually a great task to give your littles when you visit a thrift store. My kids love looking for puppets. (Just be sure to pack some hand sanitizer or wipes.)
REPURPOSED KID TOYS
If you have kids, check their toy stash for anything that could be used as a puppet.
If your kiddo has an abandoned stuffed animal with a defined mouth, you can unstuff it and use it as a puppet! WIN!
When my daughter, Mini-Me, was filling a bag for charity I noticed that she put her Cuddleuppet in the bag. SCORE!
I used a seam ripper to remove the head from the blanket and now I have a super cute girl puppy to go with my boy puppy/reindeer.
Never underestimate the power of a sock puppet! One of my teacher-prep courses in college had a unit about using sock puppets as teaching tools. We had to make our own sock puppets and I was surprised by how easy it was to make a sock puppet that didn’t look like a sock!
The version I made in college required using a needle and thread, but Six Sisters’ Stuff shared their version of a really easy, no sew tutorial for an adorable sock puppet. Seriously….how cute is this?
The best part is that you probably have everything you need to do this project, as long as you have even the simplest of craft supplies. If not, the dollar store always has cheap fuzzy socks and the other trimmings to do this project on the cheap.
Pinterest ABOUNDS with ideas for paper puppets. Many of them are printable! All you have to do is search Pinterest for “paper puppets” and you’ll find all sorts of fun printables to choose from, like this one from Easy, Peasy, & Fun.
If you’re not into crafts or thrift stores, I’ve got you covered as well! Amazon is one of my favorite places to find inexpensive teaching props – puppets are no exception!
Since I give myself a maximum of $10 a month to spend on my VIPKid classroom, I decided to give you a selection of puppets that are in that price range. I don’t include shipping in this $10 budget because I have Amazon Prime, but you will want to consider shipping costs if you aren’t a Prime member.
This is one of the most inexpensive puppets on Amazon (with an easily-moveable mouth). This brand also makes an equally-inexpensive hippo that will show up as a related item when you click on the link for this giraffe. The reviews said that a small-to-medium adult hand can fit in this puppet. Larger hands seem to be a tight fit.
Your marine-loving kiddos will love this inexpensive hand puppet! If you don’t end up using it very much in class, I’ve heard reports that it makes a great cake topper!
I love this dinosaur with a moveable mouth! Plus, the price is right!
I’m including this package of 6 puppets because, even though the total cost is more than $10, the cost-per-puppet is one of the lowest I’ve seen for puppets with moveable mouths! Keep in mind, though, that these are CHILD puppets. It says that they fit “kids of all ages,” so I’m assuming an average-size adult hand would be okay. Do any of you have these? Can you tell us more about the sizing?
Many teachers use a Puppet on a Stick! Again, this three-pack is above my $10 budget, but the cost-per-puppet is in the right range.
Here is a link to a cute alligator grabber, but treat it gently (based on the reviews).
I hope that these suggestions are helpful to you!