My 4 year old has just discovered the joys of puppetry. She’s really into it. So I thought what a great idea to create a shoe box theatre for her.

She’s always been a natural story teller and loves retelling stories, but the other day at kindy they had a little theatre set up. And has this ever started a whole new chapter of role play in our household!

A shoebox theatre is an easy and simple place to start if your child loves puppet plays too. You can make them as flash, or as simple and you like. They can be knocked up in a matter of minutes, or you can spend some time making them with your kids, and really get them involved.

Our shoebox theatre uses magnetic paint, only because my husband and I were saying how cool it would be if you could change out the background rather than have one static image on the back wall. And this lead us to remember we had some Resene Magnetic Magic paint left over from our magnetic wall reno we did a while back.

If you choose the magnetic wall option, we’ve included a free 3 little pigs and little red riding hood printable so you can get started right away.

Not only is puppet play great fun, but its also highly beneficial for children’s development.

Benefits of puppet play

Emotional development: Puppets can support kids emotionally by giving them a friend to talk to, or a way to talk to other children without having to speak directly. They can also be used to demonstrate different feelings and how they can be worked through in a non-threatening way.

Social Development: Puppets are great to help with a child’s social development. The use of puppets increases a child’s communication and social skills. By providing them the opportunity to communicate with their puppets in different social settings for example: Pretending one puppet is a Liberian and one puppet is a visitor to the library. You can play out different scenarios on how to behave in a library.

Cognitive Skills: Using puppets can help with a number of cognitive skills. For one it helps build and widen their vocabulary, they can retell stories using their memory and sequencing the events. They use their imagination skills by altering endings to well known stories, and by creating whole new stories. This helps develop their own problem solving skills as well as their ability to narrate.

How to make a shoebox theatre – Puppet play

You will need
A shoebox
Acrylic paint (Resene Lucky Point, Charlotte and Lickety Split)
Resene Magnetic Magic paint
Paint brush
Magnet dots or Magnet tape (pick these up from emporium stores)
Free Character Printables – 3 little pigs or Little Red Riding hood
Large ice-block sticks

What to do
1. Cut out two rectangle openings in the side of your shoebox. This is where the puppets slide in and out of.

2. If you’re using Magnet Magic paint, paint the back wall of your shoebox with 3 coats, leaving a dry time of at least 30 minutes between each coat.

Shoebox puppet show Magnet magic paint

3. Once dry ,paint your shoebox in your chosen colours. We simply painted blue over the top of the magnetic paint as sky and the a green on the floor as grass. That way we can easily change out our backgrounds and foregrounds.

4. Cut out some red material to frame your puppet show and give it curtains (this also helps to hide the shoebox edges). Attach a thin piece of rounded material to the top of your shoebox with strong glue. To make it look like curtains, cut a rectangle piece of material as wide as your shoebox, then slice it up the middle. Make sure not to cut all the way through. Once the material is glued on pull the curtains to each side, tie with a gold pipe cleaner, and glue to the edges of the shoebox.

Shoebox theatre red material sticking

5. Print out the free printables on to thick card stock, or onto paper and then stick them onto thick card to make them stronger. Next glue or tape the characters to large ice-block sticks. Alternatively, create our own characters on thick card and glue them to ice-block sticks.

6. For your background scenery, print out the props from the printables, or draw scenery onto thick card. Now stick some magnetic tape or magnetic dots to the back of them.

shoebox theatre houses


shoebox theatre houses little pigs

7. All that’s left now is to channel your inner Shakespeare, have fun and get creative with your shoebox theatre.

If your kids love puppets as much as ours, you might also like our Sock puppet article. Our for hundreds more craft ideas, check out our Creative arts and crafts section.

shoebox theatre magnet

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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