Tutorial: Mini Theatre

When the Wee One and I had so much fun making this project, I knew I had to share it with you! It is a no mess project (read: no glitter, no sequins, no food coloring, etc), which is a nice change of pace. This project is also pretty low cost, since you probably have a bunch of the supplies on hand. Once this project is made, you and your kiddo will have lots of fun playtime! Feel free to edit or alter pieces so they fit you and your kid. So without any more chatter, here’s the directions to make…

Mini Theatre with Felt Board Scenery & Stamped Puppets!

Supplies:

  • cardboard box (cereal box, cookie box, etc– we used one of those cardboard boxes 100 calorie snacks come in)
  • scrapbook paper or construction paper to cover the outside of your box
  • one piece of stiff/heavy weight felt the same size as the front of your box and scraps for the back of your puppets
  • white felt (for puppets) and various pieces of colored felt (what scene you are creating determines what colors you need). We always use eco-fi felt because of wool allergies.
  • fabric paint
  • glue
  • pipe cleaners/chenille stems (one for each puppet)
  • various rubber stamps (these are the stamps we used)
  • fabric ink pad & fabric markers or crayons

The Theatre:

1) Decide which side is the front of your box, then cut off the top of your box so the “roof” is open. Tape down any flaps or open sides.

2) Measure your scrapbook paper to size to cover the front, sides, and back of your box and trim paper as needed. The paper we used was big and box small, so I could cover  the front and a side with one long piece and the back and the other side with another long piece. Take the paper that will be on the front and cut out a large rectangle shape, leaving an edge around all four sides like a frame. Place this on top of the front side of your box and trace the rectangle shape onto the box. Cut out. **I did all of the cutting for this project since my Wee One is too little for scissors. You know your little/medium ones and what they can do, so use your judgment. It can be tricky to cut cardboard, though.

3) I cut the back of the box so it is about an inch and a half lower than the front. (I did this because I think this makes it easier to change the scenery out when playing. The background scenery, though, is the same height as the front of the box.) Glue the paper to the box. Let dry.

4) Now it is time to make your scenery. Cut your heavyweight felt so it is slightly smaller than the front of the theatre (you want it to fit inside snugly but without bending). Once you have decided what your scene is going to be, cut out your regular felt pieces. We wanted an outdoor scene, so I cut a green landscape and blue sky. The Wee One wanted bushes and clouds, so we drew those on felt and then cut them out.

5) Optional: We added some fabric paint accents to our cutout shapes. The bushes have green bushy lines on them and the clouds have white fluffy lines on them so the shapes look a little more dimensional. If you do this, let the paint dry completely.

You can create other scenes, too, which is what we intend to do. Just like with a felt board, your shapes will stick to the felt background and each other, making it easy to do scene changes.

The Puppets:

1) Grab your white felt, rubber stamps, and fabric ink pad. Ink up your stamp, then press firmly and with even pressure to transfer the design to your felt. I find you don’t want to press as hard down onto the felt as you do when stamping on paper since the felt absorbs the ink more than paper does. Let dry then heat set as needed. Repeat for as many characters as you want.

2) Once the ink is dry and set, use fabric markers or crayons to add color (heat set as needed when done). You could also use Sharpie markers/pens since they are permanent.

3) Time to put your puppets together. First cut out your monsters, then cut out a piece of heavyweight felt the same size as a backer for each one (or if your scissors can handle it, put your stamped felt on top of the heavyweight felt and cut out both at once).

Then fold a pipe cleaner in half for each monster/character.

Then sandwich the unfolded ends of the pipe cleaner in between the backing felt and the backside of the stamped felt and glue the layers together.

We then added a little finger hold in the top bend of the pipe cleaner. Done!

Now it is playtime!

You could also use this project as a chance to write stories and plays with your kids, which you could then act out with your mini theatre set. For Waldorf families (or any families, for that matter), it would be fun to make a background for each season and then act out a story that fits the season.

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