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Make Your Own Puppet Theater

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School’s almost out, and parents everywhere are scrambling to find games and activities to keep the little ones entertained all summer long. Well, we’ve got you covered in one easy how-to. Scroll down to learn how to make this super-easy, super-inexpensive puppet theater in just a few steps and with a few basic tools and supplies.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 standard-size sheet of foam core (40” x 60”; available at most art-supply stores)
  • Yard stick or other long straight edge
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife
  • X-ACTO knife
  • Permanent markers in at least 2 different colors
  • Acrylic paint and brushes (optional)
  • Hot-glue gun

How to do it:

1. Lay the foam core flat on a large table. Measure for the window opening by marking a rectangle starting 6.5 inches from the top of one of the long sides of the foam core, and 4.5 inches from each end. (The opening should be 16” x 31.”)

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2. Using a straight edge and a utility knife, cut out the rectangular window. Set aside the main part of the puppet theater.

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3. Using the rectangular cut-out of foam core, make a curtain for the top of the window by drawing a repeating U-shaped pattern. Start from the middle and work outward to help make each swag approximately equal, but don’t worry if it’s not perfect: this theater looks even better when it has a handmade quality. Cut out the pattern with the X-ACTO knife, and set aside the curtain piece.

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4. Use the wave-shaped cut-out of the remaining piece of foam core for the bottom of the puppet theater. Measure and mark a straight line 5 inches from the top of the waves, and cut along this line with a utility knife. Then lay the cut piece on top of the remaining foam core and trace the wave pattern. Measure and mark a straight line 6 inches from the top of the waves, and cut along this line with a utility knife. You should now have two wave pieces.

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5. Color the curtain piece with permanent marker in your choice of pattern. We went with a simple stripe.

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6. Dry brush the wave pieces with acrylic paint for hand-finished look. You can also skip the paint and use permanent markers here, using brushlike strokes.

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7. Apply hot glue to the back of the curtain piece, align the top of the curtain piece about 1 inch from the top of the window opening, and press it into place. Allow it to set for several seconds.

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8. From the remaining scrap foam core, cut nine 1” x 3” spacers.

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9. Align the spacers into three stacks of three pieces each and glue them together.

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10. Glue the spacers onto either end and in the center of the front side of the larger wave piece. Glue the back side of the smaller wave piece onto the spacers, and press gently. Allow it to set for several seconds.

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11. Glue the back side of the two-piece waves to the puppet theater, allowing at least an inch of overlap with the bottom of the window opening. Press gently, and allow it to set for several seconds.

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To use the puppet theater, prop it against two chairs or between a pair of chairs on each side. (You can also make triangular braces from an additional full-size piece of foam core and glue them to the back, so that the theater stands up on its own, but it’s harder to stash away in a closet or under a bed this way.) We draped two extra curtains over each end for even more color and fun.

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