Saturday, June 2, 2012

Puppet Theater

To make your own puppet theater, all you need are some lengths of PVC pipe, PVC joints, fabric, creativity and some puppets.

Materials: These Materials will make a puppet theater that measures approximately
3ft across, 5 ft tall and 1ft in depth.  It is possible to deconstruct this theater for easier storage.
  • PVC pipes -  7, 3 ft lengths, 4, 2ft lenghts, 4, 1 ft lengths and 2, 6(or so)  inch lengths.  Of course you can alter the lengths, if you want something bigger (or smaller), but you'll need to maintain the ratios.  Be careful about getting too muc bigger, because you'll need to add more cross pieces if it gets too much larger for more support.
  • 4 PVC 3 way corner connectors.
  • 8 PVC 3 way T connectors.
  • 2 PVC end caps
  • 3 Yards of "curtain fabric" - something like velvet and dark so it is difficult to see through.  A little simple sewing will be required, or pre-made curtain panels (buy the 36 inch size).
  • PVC Glue
  • 1 square yard of fabric for the "backdrop".  Or more pre-sewn curtain panels.  I recommend white which you can then paint with scenery or just leave white and the kids can use their own imaginations.
Start by assembling all your materials in one place.  I suggest building the whole thing before using any glue and then adding the glue at the end when you know all is well.  I only glued the pieces to make the rectangles for the sides, because I wanted it to come apart into flat pieces (as shown below) so it can be stored more easily and I can remove or change the curtain panels as I need.  This video should show you what each of the parts actually looks like as well as how to get it lined up and put together. 

Link to Instructional Video #1

 You'll need to repeat the process for the second side in such a way that you wind up with two sides that are mirror images of each-other.  You will have three remaining pipes that are each three foot lengths that can connect the two sides.  These three remaining pipes are the parts on which you'll want to hang your curtains.  This series of pictures should give you an idea of what the finished product should look like.

These are the two sides completed and laying side by side. 

Notice the T-joints facing toward the pavement in the center of the photo.

The side at the bottom of the photo has been turned over and the cross-pipes added.
Now the whole thing is put together and is laying on its side.  We are viewing the theater from the top here.  Add curtains and your puppet theater is complete.

Link to Instructional Video #2

I bought all my curtains on clearance.  Any store that sells curtains eventually gets to a point where they will have valences made from one kind of fabric left over without any of its matching curtain panels and/or left over curtain panels without any more of their matching partners to sell.  You can get really good deals if you look for these kinds of clearance items.  The fabrics and textures are different, but the color red is the same and it works well. You could also use old kids blankets and flop them over the bars, but they are more likely to fall and be a hassel this way.

For Puppets:

There are many ways to use puppets, you have marionettes with strings, hand puppets, sock puppets, finger puppets - you name it.  A quick search online will yield lots of make - your - own patterns and ideas.  Many times all you need is a paperbag and a few craft supplies.  However, if you want puppets that will last, you'll need to be a skilled seamstress or purchase.  My favorite pre-made puppet company is Mellisa and Doug (link below).  Actually, I've never had a toy from this company with which I have  been unhappy. 

For script ideas you can try these websites:
  • Legends and Lore: this online puppet store is selling its final puppets, hopefully the scripts will remain available and you can still find some good deals.
  • The Creativity Institute: scripts and puppets to purchase.
  • Puppet Resources:  Huge list and great variety.  Fairytales, Comedy, Biblical, you name it!. . .

We also have two script books from scholastic one is pretty funny cracked fairy tales, but both have a variety of fairytales in them because those are Alice's favorites.  Alice also makes up her own stories or at least retells stories from her history and literature lessons using her puppets.

Links to Puppets and Puppet Sets to purchase:
Melissa And Doug Make Your Own Monster Puppet Set
     We also LOVE the Make Your Own Princess Set Alice's Aunt Sent for her Birthday.
Melissa And Doug Firefighter Puppet
      If you'll be doing lots of fairy tales, make sure to find the Knight in Shining Armor!

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