SRF Program

  • Using Puppets for Social and Emotional Learning

    VEYLDF Alignment

    Item uses these practice principles: Reflective practice, Partnerships with families, High expectations for every child, Respectful relationships and responsive engagement, Equity and diversity, Assessment for learning and development, Integrated teaching and learning approaches.

    ​Item responds to these sub-outcomes: Children become strong in their social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.


    Using Puppets for Social and Emotional Learning is presented by a speech pathologist, Lucia Smith, from Pelican Talk Speech Therapy. Lucia has used puppets successfully in her work with children for over the last 30 years. The training includes practical puppetry that allows for all levels of comfort and confidence and explores content that can be transferred to other mediums (such as book-sharing, play, art and music).

    Download an overview of how the training, and a step-by-step guide for registration by visiting:

    Through the training participants:
    • Learn how to use hand puppets in a way that is engaging to children (“making a puppet come alive”)
    • Explore current theories of social development and the levels of social understanding necessary for developing successful peer relationships
    • Learn about why children vary in their social and emotional capabilities
    • Explore the Social Puppets program (provided in the training) and discuss how implement it within a centre
    • Learn about Theory of Mind, differences in Theory of Mind, and how to promote it using a puppet
    • Explore theories of emotional intelligence and its development
    • Learn how to model emotions using a puppet in order to promote a rich emotional vocabulary
    • Learn how to demonstrate emotional regulation using a puppet
    • Learn how to set up play-based learning with puppets to further reinforce social and emotional learning
    • Learn how to use a calming puppet
    • Learn the Tommy Turtle anger management strategy
    • Learn how to adapt the above learning to other modes of play and book-sharing
    • Review neurodiversity affirming practise and trauma informed practise
    • Learn communication strategies to promote participation by children with low language abilities and additional challenges.

    Training sessions can be completed in one of four ways. A Puppet Package containing five or six puppets, designed to complement specific parts of the program may also be purchased as part of your training. 

    Option One: Puppets for Learning comes to you - Host a face-to-face session.

    The training is hosted by your service for up to 30 participants (you may pool funding with other services in your area to access this training).

    Suggested hours: 9.00am – 2.45pm (with 15 mins for morning tea and 30 mins for lunch).

    Puppets for Learning are available to run face-to-face sessions throughout the year on weekdays, and occasionally on a Saturday or a Sunday. School holidays are also an option. 

    Contact Conni at to discuss dates for hosting and travel and accommodation charges.

    Option Two: Host a custom Zoom session for your centre.  

    If you wish to have a personalised training day, but wish to save on travel and accommodation costs, you can organise a training over Zoom (for a maximum of 25 participants). These can be run over one, two or three sessions during the day or of an evening.  School holidays are also an option. Participants may sign in individually or as a group.

    Option Three: Attendance at Melbourne-based workshop

    Educators can attend a Melbourne-based training day at the Hawthorn Campus of Melbourne University. Sessions begin at 9.30am and finish at 3.30pm. Two sessions are scheduled each term. One or more educators can attend.

    To view our 2024 training schedule visit:

    Option Four: Attendance at Zoom training sessions

    This training option is hosted by Puppets for Learning and runs across two sessions of 2 hours and 45 minutes. Participants are required to join both sessions. You will be sent the training manual and resources (on USB) prior to the training (and puppets if you choose to purchase them as part of your package). 

    To view the 2024 Zoom training schedule visit:

    Detailed Costs

    Option One: Puppets for Learning comes to you

    Workshop hosted by early childhood service for up to 30 participants: $1980 (incl. GST)

    Puppets for Learning are located 5 hours from Melbourne so travel and overnight stay charges are incurred with this option. Travel costs are combined where possible with other sessions being run in the same week and usually range from $250 - $500 (incl. GST). An overnight stay charge is a flat rate of $280 (incl. GST).

    Weekend training is available for an additional charge of $250 (incl. GST) for each session run on a Saturday or Sunday. 

    Contact Conni at for a quote.

    Option Two: Host a Zoom session for your Centre 

    Zoom workshop for up to 25 participants: $1980 (incl. GST) 

    Online training run over one session: $1980 (incl. GST). This option requires 5 hrs 15 mins (plus 45 mins of break time).

    Online training run over two sessions: $2200 (incl. GST). Requires 2 sessions of 2 hrs 45 mins.

    Online training run over three sessions: $2400 (incl. GST). This options requires 2 sessions of 2 hrs and one session of 1.5 hours.

    Weekend training is available for an additional charge of $150 (incl. GST) for each session run on a Saturday or Sunday.

    Option Three: Attendance at Melbourne-based workshop

    Attendance at Melbourne-based workshop at The University of Melbourne, Hawthorn campus: $385 (incl. GST) per participant. A USB stick of data is provided for each centre.  

    Option Four: Zoom training sessions

    Zoom training sessions: $385 (incl. GST) per participant. A USB stick of data is provided for each centre.  

    Optional resources to support implementation of training:

    • Puppet Package: $480 (incl. GST, and postage). The Complete Puppet Pack includes a Word Bird puppet program and 5 other puppets (character puppet, two children puppets, calming puppet, Calm Tommy turtle puppet).  The Word Bird Puppet is only relevant for 4-year-old kindergarten programming. If participants do not work in 4-year-old programs, they may choose to purchase the puppet package without Word Bird ($430 incl. GST). Puppets are sent to participants prior to the training and should be ordered at least one week prior to the training date. Prices include postage.
    • Alphabet Sound Cards to complement Word Bird program: ($77 incl. GST) and or Koala Emotions cards: $44 (incl. GST)
    • One USB is provided to each service that hosts training or sends participants to the training. The USB may be copied amongst staff. Additional USB sticks are available for purchase at  $22 incl. GST.
    • Individual puppets or entire puppet packages may be purchased after the training.

    Implementation Considerations

    Target Population: Educators.

    Program/practice descriptions and details: During the training workshop, participants learn how to use a puppet in a practical and engaging manner with children. Specific and personalised feedback is provided. Participants also learn to create a puppet profile and puppet session plan applicable to their early childhood service. Participants are encouraged to complete this planning in their own time and send Puppets for Learning an example of their completed session plans for feedback and reflection. Follow-up sessions are initiated by participants and prompt participants to be reflective in their current practice and plan for improvement. Any issues are discussed, and support provided to further the success of the programming. This training aligns with neurodiversity-affirming practice and trauma-informed practice.

    Staffing: Services should consider the cost of backfill in determining the cost of accessing this resource.

    Supervision/coaching: Phone-based, email-based or online follow-up sessions are available as an option to prompt participants to be reflective in their current practice and plan for improvement.

    Priority Area

    Wellbeing (social and emotional)

    Strength of Evidence

    Level 4 – Emerging research evidence