How To: Make Your Own Puppet Theatre

Craft by Agnes, staff member, Keshen Goodman Public Library

We love puppet shows! How about you? If you have an empty box and some creativity, you can create your very own puppet theatre and put on a show.

Homemade Puppet Theatre

Step 1: Gather supplies

puppet theatre supplies

The supplies we used to complete this project are, as follows:

  • an empty, family-sized cereal box (you can use any size or box you have)
  • paper (we used an 8.5" x 11" sheet from an old notebook)
  • 2 paper towel or toilet paper rolls
  • markers or crayons for decorating
  • a ruler or other straight edge
  • scissors
  • glue 
  • scraps of cardboard (you can use the cut outs from your box)
  • other decorations like stickers and glitter, if you have them

Step 2: Measure and cut a viewing window

measuring a viewing window

Place the writing paper in the centre of the side of your box and trace around it with a ruler.

cutting viewing window

Next, cut a hole in the box following the lines that you traced. This will be place where you can see the puppets.

Step 3: Prepare the back of the theatre

back of puppet theatre

Trace a larger opening at the back, and extend it around the corner and along a narrow side of the box.

Step 4: Cut out the back for puppets

cutting along narrow edge of cereal boxmeasuring a viewing window

Cut out on three sides and leave the final side uncut, folding it out. This opening is to let the puppets through. 

Step 5: Make it stronger

measuring a viewing window

Glue the open top of the box so that it stays closes. 

reinforcing puppet theatre corners

Then, glue scraps of cardboard into each of the four corners.

Step 6: Make a place to add a backdrop

Puppet theatre-BLGO-inline11

Cut a slit in each of two cardboard tubes, about halfway around the tube and about 2.5 cm from the edge.

Puppet theatre-BLOG-inline12

Glue the tubes inside the corners of the box by pushing the cereal box sides into the slits on the tubes.

Cut another slit on each tube about 2 cm from the end about halfway through each tube.

backdrop inserted into theatre

These slits will hold the background scene, as shown. 

Step 7: Make a backdrop

sample puppet theatre backdrop

Actually, make as many scenes as you like to suit the puppet shows you want to perform. Just be sure to make them big enough to cover the back of the theatre when you look through it from the front. You don't need anything special for this step. Just use whatever you have—and your own creativity. 

Step 8: Trim the back of the theatre for backdrop

trimmed back of puppet theatre

Now trim most of the back flap from the cereal box, leaving about 6 cm to help to keep the backdrop in place.

back of theatre overhang for attaching backdrop

Attach your backdrop to the 6 cm overhang with a clip or some tape.

Step 9: Decorate the front of your theatre

decorating front of puppet theatre

Use whatever you have around the house: cardboard scraps, fabric, wrapping paper, anything you like.

Step 9: Put on a show

Now that you've done all the work, it's time to make some puppets and put on a show! We made our puppets based on one of our very favourite books, Dragons Love Tacos. Watch Agnes' how-to dragon puppet video here, opens a new window!

For tips on making your very own puppets, check out this list on Pinterest, opens a new window.

puppet theatre with cardboard tube puppets