Over the past year, we have created a nice rhythm during the week, but quiet time on the weekends looks different. Without many day trips or outings, we are home all day. We all love a day in our PJs, but we find that our days work best if we still have some structure. I wanted a “big weekend project.” Something that would include a combination of activities we could do together, followed by activities they could do independently. So, we decided to make our own cardboard puppet theater!
Cardboard Puppet Theater
The theater was simple – we measured and I cut out the middle. That’s it—a theater was made. My kids decided they wanted to make it fancy. We used the cut-out chunk to create tiles to decorate the frame. This is not necessary, but the kids enjoyed painting the tiles and gluing them around the box. Our first attempt was to make a shadow puppet box. However, this didn’t work as I planned, so we pivoted to a puppet theater.
Making Puppets and Props
I knew I wanted our puppets to be simple. There is a lot of flexibility in this activity. If you already have characters, animals, or puppets, you can skip this step. I cut out about 20 circles and let my kids design their own characters and props. We ended up with a combination of faces, animals, and silly creatures. As my children were working on their characters, they naturally started to tell a story. This inspired them to design some props—a moon, a tree, a rainstorm. Rather than cutting out a “person” puppet for them, the simple circle allowed them the flexibility to use their imagination. My children taped the puppet faces to the popsicle sticks, and now our puppets were ready for their big theatrical debut.
You can also find some fun, imaginative ideas for puppets here!
Quiet Time Play
After spending this time together to design the characters, my children were ready for some independent play. I placed the cardboard puppet theater and the puppets in a room close by and told them they had 15 minutes to practice their show while my husband and I took care of some household chores. It’s amazing how much you can get done in 15 minutes when your children are actively engaged. We could hear them in the other room laughing and learning a song together. My son told me the show wasn’t going to have words—just songs. Who knew I had a budding musical theater performer in my home?
Cardboard Puppet Theater Performance Time
When the 15-minute alarm went off, it was time for a performance. And it was ADORABLE. They started off with their song (which was really just one line over and over), and then told a story about an alien, a farmer, a pig, and a whole bunch of other crazy characters who get caught in the rain. To be honest, most of the story didn’t make sense… but they had fun adding on to each other’s story and making us laugh.
When they were done, they asked my husband to do a show so they could be the audience—my husband is amazing at character voices (I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised by my son’s interest in musical theater). His performance was a huge hit—between their hysterical laughter, the kids were shouting out ideas from the audience and helping him with his show. My husband’s story inspired them even more, and the kids did another two rounds with new stories in their cardboard puppet theater.
We hope you enjoy creating your own puppet theater for independent play as much as we did!
Jessie is a mom of two amazingly creative children–ages 4 and 2. She loves having her home full of sensory play and process art. Jessie also runs her own account, Hands In Handmade where you can find more inspiration for play or check out her sensory kits.
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