Puppet theatres can be a classic childhood experience. Perhaps your kids have seen them in person at a local show or in movies like The Sound of Music. Perhaps the idea is new to your children but something you remember fondly from your childhood.
Puppet theatres can be a great way for children to explore their creativity and entertain themselves and their friends. If you have children who are looking for ways to express themselves, a puppet theatre can be a great way for them to have fun without requiring you to dedicate a huge chunk of your house to accommodate a full-sized theatre. Fortunately, there are easy and inexpensive ways to make a puppet theatre your children will enjoy.
Clearly you will need a structure to serve as the basis for the theatre. A large cardboard box can be the perfect way to create a space. Boxes for major household appliances work the best, providing plenty of space for the theatre and your children. If you don’t plan to purchase an appliance, check with local stores to see if they have boxes you are willing to give away. This could save them space in their recycling bin while making use of something that would otherwise be wasted. If no boxes are available, buy sheets of cardboard to create your own framework.
Plan the Sizing
If your children already have puppets, make sure the theatre is sized to fit them properly. There should be enough room within the opening of the theatre for several puppets to share the space at the same time so they can interact without bumping into each other. The height of the opening should allow the full head and body of the puppets to appear with a fair amount of room above their heads.
If your children don’t have puppets, no problem. Soft toys that your children already own can make a perfect substitute for the puppets and allow them to act out their scenes. Your children may have an assortment of different types of plush toys, action figures, and other characters that can all be included in their productions. Simply make sure the theatre is sized so that they can fit comfortably within the space.
Puppet Master Room
The opening for the theatre should be located near the top of the box so that here is room for your kids (the puppet masters) to sit below the opening and hold the puppets above their heads. If the box is too small for that, plan for the kids to sit on either side of the box and reach in from the sides to operate the puppets. In that case, you’ll need to allow for openings on the sides of the theatre so they can reach in.
Get the Shape
The biggest defining feature that makes a box look like a theatre is the shape of the opening and the curtains that surround it. You can cut the opening into a theatre-sized shape and add fabric or paper in front to make the curtains or you can cut the opening in the shape of a theatre draped by curtains. Then add the details using paint or markers.
You and your children can paint the box to look like a theatre with curtains to define the space. Pieces of paper or cardboard can be painted to look like a variety of different backdrops to set the scene for their puppet shows. From castle interiors to scenic landscapes or starry skies, these will allow your kids to transform their puppet action to the desired scenic locations. Tape, hooks, or hook and loop tape, can be used to keep each backdrop in place during use.
Although setting up a puppet theatre could take an afternoon of your time, it can provide your children and their friends with hours of fun and enjoyment. Plus, you never know if these early creative outlets will help your children grow up to be brilliant authors or directors!