Given that schools and nurseries make up such a large proportion of the customer base for our The Puppet Company hand puppets here at Puppets By Post, you’d expect us to be appreciative ourselves of the immense value that puppets can have for education.
Sure enough, we do! However, it’s always nice to see further evidence backing up this conviction, so it interested us very much to read one recent story on the website of The Press, detailing work on the subject by researchers at the University of York.
What were the results of the study?
The research focused on puppet theatre performances watched by more than 14,000 children and 16,000 adults at the Pickering, North Yorkshire-based combined zoo and theme park attraction, Flamingo Land, and discovered that they were effective in making their audiences more knowledgeable about important conservation messages.
The children who watched the aforementioned performances, for example, showed a 22% increase in the accuracy of their knowledge relating to global conservation issues. Meanwhile, among the adults, the increase was 18%.
Puppets can be a powerful means of ‘edutainment’
While previous research has indicated that more conventional zoo education schemes can also greatly increase learning in schoolchildren, many visitors to zoos – especially those that are also theme parks, such as Flamingo Land – expect entertainment rather than necessarily education.
This, researchers say, makes it vital for further research to be conducted into zoo visitors’ education experiences.
Dr Sarah Spooner, who completed the research as part of her PhD at the university, commented: “Since the value and ethics of live animal performances at zoos has been brought into question, zoos have been looking at new ways to deliver ‘edutainment’ to a broad audience.
“Theatre using puppets has proved a popular way forward, but we wanted to know whether this format makes a difference to what visitors learn about animals and conservation.”
The research examined Flamingo Land’s ‘Mia and Mylo Show’, which provided basic animal facts along with details about conservation work in Tanzania and captive animal breeding programmes.
Questionnaires were conducted to assess the knowledge the adults and children possessed about animal behaviour and conservation work, before and after watching the theatre production.
Both the adults and children gave more correct answers to the research questions after the theatre performance than they had beforehand.
Are you in the market for high-quality animal hand puppets?
While the above research was just one study focused on a single combined zoo and theme park attraction, it does nonetheless provide some potentially invaluable insight into the impact that puppets can have in various educational and entertainment contexts.
Whatever your own reasons for contemplating the purchase of The Puppet Company hand puppets and the offerings of all manner of other brands represented in our range – encompassing animals like amphibians, dogs, cats, birds, insects and many more – you can expect the most convenient and best-value shopping experience at Puppets By Post!