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Talk to the Hand: Puppets Play a Key Role in the Classroom

Incredible Years - group

There are two new faces at Philadelphia elementary schools that have been causing quite a stir – and not just because they are made out of yarn and fabric…

Molly and Wally are puppets that are used as part of an evidence-based program called “The Incredible Years” that Dr. Brian Daly, a child psychologist at Drexel, has been delivering and evaluating for young, primarily minority, low-income, at-risk children for the past few years in order to help improve their behavior and develop better social skills in school settings. He and his team perform behavioral management interventions using puppets and interactive materials to help kids build skills, such as managing anger, keeping hands to themselves, following instructions, working cooperatively and improving social skills.

As part of this unique program, Brian trains graduate students to perform the interventions and undergraduate students to come back a few days later and assess the children’s behavior to see if they are improving. The students track scores to see if the kids participating in the interventions will get higher scores than the control group. Parents also fill out surveys to rate whether kids’ behavior improves at home.

The goal of the study is to promote social competence for at-risk young children attending inner-city elementary schools. It also seeks to promote positive teacher behavior management techniques.

Now that’s what we call “hands-on” education!

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