Let The Toys Play on Scene: Making Toy Theatre

If you want to go really old-school, playing a toy theatre is a great way to do it. Yeah, kids now have TV, Netflix, tabletes and phones. Nothing beats the good old-fashioned toy theatre, trust me!

toy theater

What's That?

So what exactly is a toy theatre? It's usually a half box or a scene made of cardboard. Typically have some illustrations and decorations on it. Some static elements like castles and trees. And of course, the toys. The toys can be puppets, muppets, regular toys, pictures cut of cardboard... everything, use your imagination! The toy theatre usually looks like theatre - with the scene, the carpets and all that. It's up to you whether you'll prefer a more modern one or an ancient-looking scene. And up to what you want to show and teach to your kids.

And How Do You Make One?

You can either design one entirely on your own or download / buy ready templates. The latter is obviously easier. But if you are a bit of an artist, why not draw your own? You'll need 1-2 sheets of cardboard for the theatre itself. Could be more if you plan to change the decors from time to time. Then you need toys, or "actors" - puppets, muppets or whatever you are going to use. The toy theatre is very forgiving and allows a lot of creativity so you don't need to stick to just one idea.

I have collected several good sites that will help you during this process. Let's have a look:

This site here offers 3 free PDFs. One is with the theatre schema and instructions for building. It's a failry simple stuff, but why design it on your own when you can get a free template? Then it provides a file with several different scenes. This is cool because you can plan different things on the same theatre (which is the whole idea anyway). Finally it offers even a free Cinderella script :) Good job, thanks folks!

If you are more of a watching person you may want to have a look at the video below. A couple of guys go over the process of building a toy theatre from recycled box. Pretty neat as you won't need special cardboard and you don't even need to build that much. The box is already there! Have a look:

This article focuses on making a Victorian toy theatre. These theatres were popular in 19 century and usually used puppets and not muppets. The guide is quite detailed and provides pictures plus some history. It's an interesting read so give it a chance.

And why not a French Theater? This page will give you decent printable PDFs so you can get the theater playing pretty quick.

Here is also a whole site focused on making toy theatres. Don't be turned off by the site's old-fashioned look (we all like old-fashioned stuff anyway, don't we?). It's really useful and provides scenes and patterns along with building instructions. Neat stuff!

If you'd rather go for something ready done, the book Cut & Assemble a Nutcracker Ballet Toy Theater: A Complete Production in Full Color (Models & Toys) will come handy. Although it's more than 30 years old book, it's still good to have you started with a great toy theatre.

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