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Make a Toy Theater and create a "Petit Puppet Play"

Use a story from history, literature, or life

MATERIALS: for the theater and puppet characters.

NOTE: The puppets and scenery are small, scaled to the size of the box (theater). You do not need all of these materials, this is a suggested list.
"Less is More",
  select a few basic materials so that the people constructing the puppets and scenery can focus on the problem and not be overwhelmed by the supplies.

To make the theater:

To make the characters:  Select just a few materials for each group.
  • Light weight cardboard or poster board - cereal box cardboard weight-. for puppets and scenery
  • White glue, hot glue and glue sticks, glue brushes
  • Paint, magic markers
  • Balsa wood, or other light weight wood
  • Paper clips, gold fasteners, straws
  • Cloth of various colors and textures, various sizes of pom poms, pipe cleaners, wire
  • For hair and decoration: yarn, fake fur, cotton balls, polyester fill, etc.
  • Paper of various colors, weight, and texture, wallpaper samples
  • Clothes pins, small pieces of wood, knobs, caps from bottles, etc. to make puppets
  • Thin dowels, skewers, tongue depressors, Popsicle sticks, etc.- to move puppets
  • String or fishing line to make simple rod marionettes
This stage is in the style of a book -
there are no sides or top to the theater.
The pages drop forward.


Plan the play - This may be done by one person or in small groups.

Do not worry about a script, the script will be developed as you begin to act out the story, or improvise the story. Once you have acted out the story, then tape record or write down the script. This method of developing a script generates expressive vibrant language flow and is a cooperative effort with each actor adding his/her creativity to the script.

Select a box that will become the theater. The box can be any size, but a box that contains computer paper is a good starting size and it has a cover. There are no rules about the size of the box which will become the theater, but all of the puppets and scenery must be scaled to the size of the box theater.

Once you have a PLAN
  • Cast the play. Decide who will play each part,
  • Decide what materials you will use for the puppets and scenery, from the suggested list above.

Construct your Puppets, Scenery and Props

  • Look carefully at the size of the stage.  Sit in front of the stage and measure how large you can make the puppets and props so that they can be seen clearly.
Grade 5 students presented stories
about Exp;lorers with Petit Puppet
plays in  Toy Theaters.

Some ways to make the puppets move include:

Act out the story

Toy Theater is doing a play in miniature, a "Petit Puppet Play". It includes all the elements of a play on a large stage, but everything is small. If students have made a DIORAMA this project makes the diorama come to life. Students must think about what happened in the scene, who was there and what did they say? Toy Theater combines language, processing information and reusing the information in a dramatic way.

Transform the toy theater into a shadow puppet theater

Turn the proscenium theater into a Shadow puppet stage by making a front proscenium opening with extended side wings. Eliminate all side pieces so that there is just an opening and wings…Cut heavy poster board or cardboard so that it fits snugly into the proscenium opening. Cut a square in the cardboard that is a little smaller than the proscenium opening and tape newsprint or muslin tightly on the back of the cardboard to make a screen. Use the same clamp light behind the screen and use small shadow puppets scaled to the size of the theater. It is easy and fun

Toy Theater turned into a shadow theater.
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