Cardboard boxes are a great resource and tool to spark imagination. When I bought a rain barrel, purchased so I could be a little more ecologically friendly, it came in a huge cardboard box. After laughing at the irony of the amount of packaging, I started thinking about what I could do with the box, other than cutting it down to send off to be recycled or for use in my garden.
I had a dozen ideas chasing each other around in my head. I knew the kids could make great use of this box, so I let them make the final decision. I offered to make the box into a spaceship, car, truck, and a variety of other neat options. Their joint decision was a puppet theater. So I thought about it, made some mental plans, and then promptly forgot about it. That is until my the night before my daughter’s birthday. At this point we were cleaning off the screened porch for additional seating, where the box awaited its transformation. That night I got out my scissors, two colors of duct tape, paint, a paintbrush, and got down to business. Here is how you can make a puppet theater out of any box, the larger the better.
1. The first thing you need to do is look at the box. Find any imperfections; dents, tears, discolorations, and take note of where they are. Decide which side should be the top, front, back, and bottom.
2. Carefully cut away the flaps an the side that will be the bottom of your theater.
3. Starting at the bottom of the box, cut a entry into the theater of the side that will be the back. I only cut about half of the way up. Depending on the size of the box, and the children that will be using it, you can adjust your entry to best fit your needs.
4. Cut away a window towards the top of the front side of the box. I only cut a window that was about a third the height of the box, but again depending on the box and the individuals that will be using the theater you can make that window larger or smaller.
5. To make the box a little sturdier, I used the duct tape the fasten some of the cut away strips of cardboard to the inside of the box, particularly the top portion that becomes the roof. This is not necessary, but could not hurt. You could also use this extra material to make an awning for the theater opening.
6. Paint the box any colors you want. I ran short on time, so I only painted the front of the theater a plain blue. You can go as simple or complex in your decoration as you want.
7. Let the paint dry thoroughly, including a second coat if necessary.
8. Use colored duct tape to secure any cut edges of cardboard. This will prevent any nasty paper cuts while playing. You can also use the tape to create stripes of designs on the box.
9. Add any final detail work with paint, tape, glue, whatever to completer the look of your theater. If you want to get really fancy, you could poke holes in the box and use string and some fabric to create a curtain. Your creativity and time are the only limits.
Imagination is one of the greatest joys of childhood. A puppet theater can be a great way for anyone to express their imagination. Since the puppet theater’s unveiling, mid birthday party, it has hosted shows of just about everything but puppets. Talking shoes, stuffed animals, and hands have created more stories and personalities than I could have anticipated. It has also been used as a boat, spaceship, and jail cell. There really no limits on where a child’s imagination can take them.