So now that we’ve spent some time on puppet skills, you are ready to use them in your teaching. If you don’t already have some puppets for your classroom, where can you get them?
Here are my three best sources for pre-made puppets:
1- Yard Sales, Thrift Stores, and Kid Consignment Sales/ Stores:
Most people are drawn to puppets but, sadly, just don’t know what to do with them. As a result, you can often find puppets for super-discounted prices at sales and discount shops. Start keeping your eye out for them, and if you have a friend or relative who likes to “yard sale” for fun, tell him/her to pick up puppets when they are available. You’ll build up a collection in no time!
2- Let your school families know that you collect puppets and appreciate receiving them as donations or gifts.
It’s almost time for my annual teacher gift list post (see last year’s suggested gift list here.) Often families are happy to donate the puppets collecting dust on their shelves or cluttering the playroom floor. They also love having a good suggestion for an inexpensive class gift for occasions such as Christmas and Teacher Appreciation Week. Make it known that you love puppets!
3- Shop Smart!
As you know, puppets are widely available in stores. I see them in toy shops, bookstores, and often even discount retailers like TJ Maxx. However, sometimes you might be looking for a particular character or you want to purchase a set. Here are a few of my favorite online shopping spots:
1. Amazon.com! Amazon is a great site for buying puppets. Sometimes they offer discounted prices and free shipping with a minimum purchase. However, watch carefully, because some prices will be better than others. The other benefit of Amazon is that they carry many different brands, so a search for a character (like “squirrel puppet” or “princess puppet”) will lead you to a variety of options.
2. Folkmanis is my favorite puppet company! They sell beautiful animal puppets as well as character puppets. My monkey, Maurecio (featured in the puppet mascot video), and my raccoon are Folkmanis puppets. One of my favorite things about this company is that they offer a great discount to schools and libraries! In fact, just recently I know that with a minimum order, they would sell puppets to teachers/ librarians at wholesale prices (50% off retail.) That’s a great deal!
Call their number at (800) 654-8922 and request a catalog and price list for your school. Then leave it out in the teacher’s workroom or pass it around and see if you can’t generate enough orders from your faculty to meet the minimum. (And if your peers don’t know how to use puppets, send them a link to this blog series!)
FYI… This information is on the Folkmanis FAQ page:
Question: I represent a school or library, do you give a discount?
Answer: Yes, we offer a discount to schools and libraries. You cannot order through our online retail Shopatron store on this website to receive tax-exempt status or to get the discount. The discount is only available if you order directly from Folkmanis, Inc. through our Wholesale Department, not our retail website. Our discount is not available through our retail customers either. To order a catalog and see our school/library ordering policies and pricing, please click to our catalog request form. Make sure to specify that you are a school or library. Or you may call the office during regular business hours for the Pacfic Coast to request a catalog and pricelist.
Isn’t that cool?
3. Manhatten Toy is another good puppet company. They make the Fraggle puppets (like my friend, Red, featured in the talking mascot video.) They also seem to have a contract for Dr. Seuss characters. Wouldn’t it be fun to “interview” the Grinch before Christmas? The Manhatten Toy website is currently offering free shipping on orders of $60 or more.
The Puppet Company also makes some really adorable puppets! I love their fluffy walking bird marionettes, and their wizard is the one I plan to purchase for use as my “math-magician. (To replace my small cone wizard puppet.)
They have an online web presence but it looks like you can’t order directly, so I linked to their Amazon store.
And look at their adorable Santa Puppet! He would be so much fun to use in the classroom! He could introduce holiday stories and activities, give reports from the North Pole, encourage children to write him letters, etc. FUN!
Puppets are everywhere, so start watching for them and building your collection. The more you have, the more creative you can be with your teaching!
Coming up next, I’ll share a few tips for making your own puppets, DIY style!