Storytelling with a puppet: the Ellie Gift Set

A useful resource to make talking to young children about dementia and memory-related conditions easier.


Talking to children about dementia isn’t easy

I am always seeking ways to raise children’s awareness of dementia more effectively. Talking to children about such an emotive subject as dementia is not easy. I find that using an Ellie hand puppet to accompany telling The Forgetful Elephant story helps to hold children’s attention, and it also helps to generate meaningful discussion. I’m now offering the Ellie Gift Set so the story explaining about dementia can be told more effectively, for the benefit of all.

My Ellie hand puppets are an essential feature in my Ellie Sessions. I see that children are much more attentive and engaged when they take an active part in acting out the story, using the adorable plush Ellie hand puppets. I personalise each puppet with Ellie’s pink bows to enhance her character.

Puppets are thrilling for a young child

Using a puppet to tell a story adds a tactile, fun element which encourages children to discover the joy of books, and to internalise the message. Puppets can be used in any way, anywhere, and at any time to bring a story to life and to spark young imaginations. You don’t need to be a professional puppeteer or have an expensive puppet to make storytelling with puppets work. If you use your imagination, the possibilities are almost endless.

Whether you are telling the story to an individual child or to a group, using a puppet can be a useful technique. Knowing that the audience is focusing on the puppet can help you to relax and relate to their responses and reactions. The art of storytelling is about bringing stories to life, and puppets are a great way to do that.

Let the puppet do the talking

Talking about dementia can raise many deep emotions, for you as the storyteller, and also for the child. Feelings of fear, sadness, confusion, anger and resentment may be painful and difficult to express. You can use the puppet to ease the way to talking about how you feel. It can be helpful to encourage the child to use the puppet to talk about how they are feeling. In my experience children may be more comfortable addressing a puppet than speaking directly to a person, and may even be able to confide their secret feelings to the puppet. Respect the child’s privacy in this case. Approach them gently with the puppet. If a child is scared or shy, move the puppet’s focus away from them. Never insist that the child engage with the puppet. To make the puppet more approachable, it can mirror the child’s shyness, and reflect how Ellie feels in the story. Just relax and enjoy the process of communicating with the child, with plenty of hugs and cuddles – and tissues, if necessary. There’s no right or wrong way. (See more storytelling with puppets benefits and suggestions here)

Give a gift of communication

To encourage all-important communication between adult and child, the Ellie Gift Set is a touching and meaningful gift for any occasion: birthday, Christmas, Hannuka, or if a loved one is diagnosed with dementia. You may find my guidelines helpful for telling the story.

The Ellie Gift Set includes

  • a fully-illustrated copy of The Forgetful Elephant book
  • a customised plush Ellie hand puppet
  • an Ellie book mark, with Ellie’s motivational poem reminding us to ‘have a little patience’
  • supplied in a gift bag

The Ellie Gift Set can be ordered securely through PayPal here, for delivery worldwide. For bulk orders please contact me.
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Ellie Gift Set: £18 + £4 UK P&P

   UK – GBP

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Ellie Gift Set: €26 + €7 Europe P&P

   Europe – EUR

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Ellie Gift Set: $29 + $9 USA and Rest of World P&P

   USA + ROW (including Canada, Australia) US$

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I welcome any further suggestions you may have for resources.

Wishing you effective communication

Irene Mackay

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