Tabletop Puppet Theater

June 19, 2012

To make a tabletop cardboard puppet theater, I gathered a large box, a pair of scissors strong enough to cut through cardboard, craft glue, some paint and something to clamp the box together while the glue is drying. I used a bulldog clip but a binder clip would work as well.


To start, I squeezed a fair amount of glue on the inside flaps of one side of the box (underneath one of the outer flaps).


I clamped both sides while the glue dried.


Once the glue was dry, I cut off all four flaps on the back of the box with a pair of sharp scissors as well as the top flap on the front of the box. Then, I cut the inside flaps above the bottom flap that I glued.


My husband and daughter added a coat of Gesso to the entire box to prepare the cardboard surface for paint. This step is optional.  


Since the box was quite narrow in width, it began to sag when I  painted it.  If your box is thicker in width, you shouldn't have this problem.  However, if you do run into the same problem, you can add some panels to stabilize the box.


I cut some of the leftover cardboard and glued panels to the top and the sides of the puppet theater.  Since I glued them inside the box, I didn't bother painting them.


I used one of the longer panels that I cut off the box as a reference to cut fabric for the curtains.  Hanging curtains is also optional. 


I cut two pieces of fabric with pinking sheers to prevent fraying.  I folded  the tops about  a 1/4"  and pressed them with a hot iron.  I then folded them 1/4"  once more and pressed them again.


I cut a piece of twine long enough to hang the two curtain panels with extra to tie the the curtains to the each side of the box.  I placed the twine under the top fold of one panel.


Then I sewed a simple running stitch along the bottom of the fold.

 

When I came to the edge of the first curtain panel, I knotted the thread and then sewed the second panel over the twine.


With the tip of a sharp knife, I made two holes at the top of the box near the front on both sides.


I took one end of the twine and from the inside I pulled it through the first hole (closest to the front).

 

Then, I pulled it through the second hole.


I tied an knot on the inside of the box.


I did the same with the other side of the twine.  I had to pull it taught when I tied it on the second side to prevent the curtains from sagging at the top.  I trimmed off the excess twine.


We decided to decorate our puppet theater with pom poms. 


This is what our puppet theater looks like from the back.  We usually keep the curtains open.  They are more decorative than functional at this point.


I sewed buttons on a pair of cute socks that I had in my drawer to make two sock puppets.  I purposely kept the puppets simple and expressionless to allow my daughter to create open-ended stories and dialog. Since the puppets do not have elaborate and defined features, she is able to turn the puppets into people, animals, funny monsters or any other creature that she fancies. 

 

This puppet theater fits perfectly on Sophia's small table. After I modeled a few dialogues between the puppets, she was keen to do her own show. Not only have these puppets helped to cultivate her imagination, they have also aided in the development of her oral language skills as well as her sense of humor!  I have noticed that her puppet shows are becoming more elaborate and the dialogue she creates between the puppets is very funny!

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