Toy Puppet Theater

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Kids will have many opportunities to use their imagination with this puppet stage. Lower the drawbridge and pull the curtains and the puppet show can begin. Hand puppets can pop up in many different places. There is even a window on the side where tickets can be sold. The backdrop can be change easily when the story changes. After the show is over the sides fold in for easy storage.

Step 1: Materials

2 4x8 1" foam insulation sheets

Wood glue - outdoor

Hot knife to cut foam (Any wood saw will work but hot knife doesn't create so much mess)

Old sheets or fabric

Acrylic paint

X-acto knife to cut fabric

Paint brushes

2 8 foot 1/2" pvc pipes

Large piece of paper or fabric for background

Curtains (One 40" x 84" grommet panel cut into pieces)

scrap wood pieces

Yard stick

Layout plans

Step 2: Cutting Foam

Use a ruler to lay out your design on the foam. Plans for the castle are included with this Instructable but the foam provides endless options. You can make a much smaller stage using just one sheet. Just use the bottom measurements. The two 1 1/2 foot pieces can be used for the hinged pieces.

Use the hot knife to cut out all pieces. A saw can be used but creates quite a mess. Use a clamped straight edge to help make nice even edges.

Glue the two side window pieces to the main part of the stage. Overlap by about two inches. You can use a glue gun if it has a low setting. High setting just melts the foam.

Helpful Hot Knife Tips:

Cut in well ventilated area

Wear a mask because of strong fumes

Keep the knife moving so you don't burn a big hole

Test on a scrap pieces to find the right temperature

Step 3: Covering Cut Foam Pieces With Fabric

This next step is a little messy but it adds strength and gives you a good surfaces to paint.

The first step is to peel the plastic and foil off the front and back. This gives the fabric a nice surface to stick to.

Put a thin layer of glue on the whole surface and smooth out fabric covering the piece. I like using old sheets. Cut out the widows after it is all covered. There are two side pieces that fold back to hold up the stage.

Cover the back of the stage and the side pieces at the same time with one piece of fabric. This creates a hinge so you can fold up the side pieces for easier storage.

Use this same method to make a hinge for the drawbridge. Do the crenellations separately and glue to the castle after covered with material. My castle looks pretty funny after this step because I used many different sheets and fabric scraps to cover the stage.

Step 4: Painting

A nice paint undercoat makes the paint job turn out best. Use a pencil and ruler to lay out all the stones.

Paint the stones first and then use a sponge to create texture. You can also use the sponge to create shadows.

Chalk board paint on the other side of the drawbridge gives kids a chance to write the name of their play. It would probably work best to paint the chalkboard paint on a smooth board and glue it to the drawbridge.

Step 5: Creating Backdrop

To hide the puppeteer from the audience it is important to have a backdrop. A piece of paper 34" x 48" folded and taped over a pvc pipe is how this backdrop is made.

The pvc pipe is held up by two pieced of wood glued to the side pieces. Drill two holes a little larger than the pipe. Slide the pipe into the holes.

Decorate the backdrop with any paint, crayon, marker or paper you want. The backdrop shown was made with construction paper cutouts.

Step 6: Curtains

Commercially made curtains with grommets were used for the front curtains. Similar to the backdrop, they slide on a pvc pipe.

Wood pieces were used to hold up the pipe. A piece of plywood was screwed to the one inch piece of wood with a hole in it.

Glue the plywood to the back of the stage. Do the same on the other side of the opening.

All the curtains were made from from the same panel curtain. Measure your windows and cut the curtains a little larger than the opening.

The main curtain used the full 40" across. Cut it to length and hem the bottom.

The smaller curtains were sewn to Velcro on the top and hemmed on the sides. Glue the other side of the Velcro to the back of the stage. Use the Velcro to hold up the curtains.

Step 7: Adding the Castle Tower

Another place for puppets to appear is the tower added at the top.

Glue the roof to the tower overlapping about two inches. It was also covered with material and painted.

Wood with straps was glued to the back of the stage to hold the tower in place. The tower can be removed for storage.

Step 8: Show Time

Sell tickets from the window on the side of the stage and get ready for the show. Lower the drawbridge and it is time for the show to start!

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