He’s a sock.
Well, he was a sock until he became a Rupert.
Now he’s a furry little guy who lives in my purse and comes out when there are children around to marvel in his magic.
I made him for an assignment in my Elementary Art Education class as a closing project. He is created from a sock, two googly eyes, some feathers, two cardboard triangles inside that provide structure to the mouth, and hot glue. Our teacher thought we could make them to take to our own classes one day and use as instructional tools. I might do that too, when the time comes, but in the mean time I have a better idea!
The kids I babysit love Rupert! He intrigues them in a way an ordinary toy couldn’t because he comes alive and interacts with them. The eighteen month old twins don’t understand that he is attached to my arm, or that it is my vocal cords that power his speech. All they know is that he is furry, he can tickle them, he talks, he moves all around, and he gives them lots of kisses!
On a car ride sitting in the back seat with children, out he comes.
When someone is fussy and can’t be consoled, out he comes.
I love that he is just a simple sock, too, because if I am using him to entertain one baby, and then the other baby gets into mischief (an extremely common and rapidly occurring event), I can quickly snatch her up or take a dangerous object from her hand while still wearing Rupert!
Sometimes Rupert comes on too strong, though. When the girls first met Rupert, they were interested in him, but also very confused and uneasy. He had to slowly gain their trust in order to acquire tickle and kisses rights- just like a person. Also, when kids first wake up is not a good time for Rupert to be excited or affectionate. Babies need their time and space to wake up, too!
If you’re looking for a fun activity to make with a child four years or older, I would suggest making a sock puppet with him or her! Make it a grand event with an important emphasis given to naming, creativity, and craftsmanship. You can develop a story of where your new friend came from and how they came to live with you. Pick a special place in the house where it will “live” and provide some washcloths or old baby blankets for a bed.
For younger children like the ones I watch, they can still appreciate the mystery of a sock puppet you make ahead of time and present to them. As a babysitter, I don’t leave Rupert at the kids’ house, but he does have a designated place where he can always be found- my bag.
If you are good at impressions, choose a funny accent to use when you are playing with your puppet. (I’ll admit I am inconsistent with Rupert’s voice. Sometimes he is a high pitched southern voice, sometimes he is a sophisticated Englishman.)
For children learning to read, use the puppet as a reading buddy! Reading aloud can help children build confidence, and an expert adult reader may seem like an intimidating audience. The child can slip their puppet friend onto their hand, find a quiet place, and read to their friend.
Some other ideas for how to use your sock puppet-
– For older children in an argument, your sock puppet can listen to both sides of the story and mediate conflict resolution.
– Your puppet can sing songs the children are learning (in a different voice than you normally sing it it) to reinforce the melody and words.
– The obvious way to use a puppet is to put on a play! You may have to show them first, but after a while older kids will be able to put on their own impromptu or even planned production.
Be creative and enjoy your puppet. I would LOVE to hear any other puppet use ideas, or different materials to make them with.