How Do You Make a Toy Theatre

DIY Toy Theatres

Making a toy theatre can be a great fun activity for kids. Toy theatres were popular in Victorian times with paper theatres you could put together at home and recreate plays for friends and family being popular and relatively inexpensive souvenirs when going to see a play.

The toy theatre was printed on paper and would have to be cut out and built at home making it a great activity for children that would provide hours of entertainment not just in terms of performing the play but in building the theatre itself. Theatre sets would usually include scenery, actors and costumes. Sets could be purchased as either coloured or black and white which you could colour yourself at home. These were cheaper and also added to the fun.

As well as the paper theatre, scenery and characters the set would tend to include an abridged or simplified version of the play so that it could be reenacted at home.

A traditional Victorian Theatre

If you would like to, you can make your very own Victorian paper theatre at home. In Victorian times the paper would need to be carefully cut out and glued onto cardboard and the same applies today. You can download and print off templates which then need to be carefully cut out with a craft knife and glued to cardboard to give them strength.

Creating this type of theatre is quite tricky and will definitely require adult supervision even with older children as you need to use a scalpel to cut the fiddly pieces and still get a good finish. However the results are really beautiful and building a theatre in this way is not only a great craft activity but a great opportunity to learn a bit of history as well.

Characters for this type of toy theatre would also have been printed on paper and would have had a stick or a long piece of card attached to them so they could be moved around the stage.

A Cardboard Box Theatre

If you are looking for something a little bit less complex you can easily make a toy theatre from a cardboard box. This could be a shoebox or a cereal box if you want to make a small table top theatre with stick puppets that are manipulated from above. Or a larger box if you want to make a theatre that children can sit or stand behind and use hand puppets.

There are lots of great instructional videos available and tutorials online but the basic steps are fairly simple. If you are making a small theatre you will need a cereal or shoe box, some scissors or a craft knife, glue, paint and or pen and ideally some fabric for the curtains.

First cut a window in the front of the box. Paint the box and attach the curtains. Then you will need to create a slit in the top of the box for the puppets and if you are feeling really creative another slit at the back so you can change the scenery during the play or for future performances.

Next you need to think about the scenery you want behind your puppets, maybe woods if you were performing little red riding hood or the three little pigs for example, and the puppets you will need. You can then draw and cut out the characters and attach them to wooden lolly pop sticks or skewers so that you can move them about on stage.

This is a great activity for children and creates a fun toy they can play with again and again.


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