One of my son Emmett's favorite stuffed animals is a polar bear puppet we named Penny the Polar Bear. Penny, as she likes to be called, is one of my favorites too because she speaks French. I often put her on and talk to Emmett in French in a high "Penny" voice. He always plays along and answers her. So this morning we had a conversation that went something like this "Bonjour Emmett! Comment ca va?" (hello Emmett! How are you?"). Emmett said "très bien" (very good). Then he whispered to me so Penny couldn't hear, "How do you say the sun is coming up?" I reminded him he knows how to say sun ("le soleil") and then I taught him "le soleil se lève." Emmett repeated this phrase back to Penny perfectly. Penny got so excited about the sun coming up that she did a little happy dance and gave him a kiss on the nose.
Engaging your kids in speaking a foreign language through puppets is a great way to make learning new words fun. Kids have an amazing ability to suspend disbelief and will happily delve into a long exchange with a puppet - try it with whatever words you know in Spanish, French, Chinese, or whatever language you are teaching your child, and see the great reactions... Penny says "Bonne Année!" (Happy New Year). Wishing everyone a healthy happy 2009, from our family to yours.