Transform a cardboard box into a tiny theater

A tiny theater is a great way to create a stage — and an environment — for your puppet show. You can make almost anything happen by changing backgrounds and using props. To get started:
  • Watch the How To video below made by expert puppeteer Sara Peattie.
  • If you haven’t already, watch Sara’s 3-part video, which uses a tiny theater she made from a card board box (go to inspiration page to watch this video).
  • Download the “proscenium arch” at the bottom of the page designed by Kari Percival; color it in and cut it out and glue it to a cereal box as shown in Sara’s videos.  Or make your own version of a decorative theater stage!
  • You may have to print your puppets out at 50% reduced size to fit in your puppet theater. Make the theater first, and then test out the puppet size before you decorate them. And you can always draw your own versions at whatever size you want!
  • Your theater should have a slot cut in the top of the box (so you can lower puppets down through it) and slots on the sides of the box (so you can push or pull puppets along the stage). You will have to attach your sticks in the correct orientation to use the slots.


Watch this video made by Sara Peattie. She shows you 3 ways to make a tiny theater using:
  • a cracker box (you can use any small box, like a cereal, cracker, or cookie box)
  • a medium sized cardboard box
  • a cat litter bin, which offers good lighting because of its light color and translucent material.
You will need glue, wide tape (like packing or duct tape) and cutting tools. WARNING: these projects require cutting with sharp tools. Heavy cardboard and plastic should be cut by an ADULT using a mat knife. Cereal boxes can be cut with a good scissors.


Watch Sara’s video (above).  Check out some of the links that show you how other people have made tiny theaters, or do a google search.  Make your puppet theater.
We have a proscenium arch here that you can download and decorate, but you can also make your own.  This arch fits on a smaller box, like a cereal box.

THEN . . .

When you have decided how big or small to make your theater, you can download and print out your paper puppets to the correct size; you may want to reduce them by 50% (more or less) when you print. Or you can draw your own Fox and Owl, along with other characters.


You can make all kinds of backdrops for your tiny theater.  Take Fox and Owl under the sea, into outer space, to the Egyptian Pyramids, or to your favorite place in Arlington.  You can draw backdrops or make collages using photos from magazines.  Sara even used real plants to make her jungle!


There are lots of examples of tiny theaters – sometimes called “shoebox theaters” or “toy theaters” – on the internet.
One of the best is by our friends at the Arlington Center for the Arts; it’s from a workshop they ran through their Facebook page:  ACA Zoom Puppet Theater. (posted here to the left).
Check out other websites for ideas too.  Here are a few links that we found that show how people have approached making puppet theaters and using them at home.