I’m so honored to have Amanda of Not Just Cute guest posting today. If you’ve been an MPMK reader for long then you know what a big fan I am of both her blog and her e-book, Parenting with Positive Discipline. I’ve referenced Amanda’s insightful posts many, many times on topics ranging from picking the right preschool and talking to young children about death to being a better listener and Dr. Seuss. Today, in typical Not Just Cute fashion, Amanda shares with us not only her favorite DIY puppet theaters, but also the benefits that come with using them.
The invitation to put on a puppet show always promises plenty of fun for children. But as another form of dramatic play (something Steph wrote about here) it’s also a powerful learning tool, providing loads of practice for language and literacy skills as they experiment with words and stories. Of course creativity, imagination, and even social negotiation get a workout as well. Many have also found that puppets provide a great outlet for children who are generally shy or quiet, giving them language practice while keeping the attention on something other than themselves.
Creating your own puppet theater can be a simple step that will yield hours of productive play for your little ones. As with any good dramatic play prop, this may evolve from its original purpose, becoming a drive-thru window, a fruit stand, or a secret hideout. There are all kinds of ways you can make your own theater using common materials. Read on for 10 of my favorites.
1. Science Project Display Boards: Totally Tots gives great step-by-step instructions for taking a simple display board and creating the portable stage you see above. You can also add a supported shelf like Ali did at Bug and Monkey Mama, perfect for holding your props or serving up takeout orders.
2. Repurposed Cardboard Boxes: Everyone has access to a cardboard box, and it’s always fun to put it to good, imaginative use! Rubyellen of Cakies created the darling box theater pictured above for simple wooden spoon puppets. You can also get inspiration for your cardboard box creation from Christie’s circus-themed theater at Childhood 101 or MaryLea’s colorful theater with a clever dry-erase sign at Pink and Green Mama.
3. Curtain Rods: Jennifer shares two versions of doorway puppet theaters at Make and Takes, repurposing existing curtains or sewing a festive set as shown above. Valerie at Frugal Family Fun Blog adds a third panel, giving the puppet stage a finished looking backdrop as well. Love and Sugar Kisses takes a different approach with a single panel curtain that requires ZERO sewing. FuoriBorgo takes the puppet show curtain from the doorway and places it on a bunk bed frame for something completely new.
If you’re feeling particularly handy, you can also try this tutorial for a darling wooden puppet theater from Making the World Cuter.