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 run by a speech pathologist, Lucia Smith, who has used puppets successfully in her work with children for over 28 years. It consists of a 5-hour workshop and the opportunity to follow-up as required via email, phone or Zoom.

    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 three types of puppet use applicable to the early childhood setting
    • Explore the Social Puppets program and discuss how implement it within a centre
    • Learn about Theory of Mind, deficits 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

    Training sessions can be completed in one of four ways. All bookings must be made online at this link

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

    The training can be hosted by your service for up to 30 participants (you may pool funding with other services in your area to access this training). Choosing this option means that the service will need to allocate funds towards travel costs and overnight stay fees as negotiated with Puppets For Learning. 

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

    Puppets for Learning are available to run a small number of face to face sessions throughout the year on a Saturday or a Sunday. An additional cost of $220 (incl. GST) is applied for weekend sessions. 

    Contact Lucia 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 day, or two training sessions, over Zoom.  If the option to split this training is selected, it is done so over two sessions of 2.5 hours. These sessions can be run in the afternoon after kindergarten or of an evening.  The latest a session may commence is 5.00pm.

    Option Three: Attendance at Melbourne-based workshop

    Educators can attend a Melbourne-based training day at the Hawthorn Campus of Melbourne University. There is ample parking available (at a cost of $10 per day) and public transport is within walking distance. Places are strictly limited due to COVID-19 restrictions. A full attendance at one day is required to complete the training. Sessions begin at 9.30am and finish at 3.30pm.

    For 2023, the confirmed dates for training days are:

    • Thursday 23 March 2023
    • Friday 24 March 2023
    • Thursday 18 May 2023 
    • Friday 19 May 2023
    • Saturday 20 May 2023
    • Thursday 20 July 2023
    • Friday 21 July 2023

    Option Four: Attendance at Zoom training sessions

    Zoom training is hosted by Puppets for Learning and run across two sessions of 2.5 hours for up to 20 participants. Participants join both sessions. You will be sent the training manual and resources (on USB) prior to the training. 

    Term 1 and 2 dates for Zoom training are:

    • Term 1: Thursday 9 February and Thursday 16 February 2023, 2.45-5.30pm
    • Term 2: Wednesday 3 May and Wednesday 10 May 2023, 2.45-5.30pm

    Please Note: Registrants are required to join both Zoom sessions and Puppet packages will be Express Posted prior to the first session - so please contact provider ASAP to register.

    A Puppet Package containing six puppets designed to complement specific parts of the program is also available and can be purchased prior to your training session. Puppet Packages are only available as part of the training. 

    Detailed Costs

    Option One: Puppets for Learning comes to you

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

    Travel costs and overnight fees may apply (the provider is based in far East Gippsland). Overnight stays are charged at $280 (incl. GST). Travel is charged at $0.78/km and can be minimised by combining trips with other service in the area. Contact provider for a quote.

    Option Two: Host a Zoom session for your Centre 

    Zoom workshop for up to 20 participants: $1980 (incl. GST) 

    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 Puppet Package: $460 (incl. GST, and postage)

    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 plan for feedback and reflection. Follow-up sessions via email 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.

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

    Supervision/coaching: Three brief 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