{Puppet Theatre}

I mentioned on the MPP facebook page a couple of weeks ago that Princess Pea and I were making a puppet theatre. I haven't posted about it yet because I wanted to wait until it was finished. Well, it's still not finished, but I know myself well enough to know that it may never be finished! So I'm just going to share it now; I'll tell you what I did and what I plan to do when/if I ever get around to it. We've already been using it, it's just missing a couple of finishing touches.

The theatre is made from an empty cookie box from IKEA. It is the kind that is a sturdy cardboard and has a clear cellophane window over the top. We just took off the cellophane (to eat the cookies, of course!), and noticed that the box made a perfect....theatre! (or TV, or shadow box...)

Anyway, since we'd been reading The Gruffalo a lot as part of our 5-A-Day Books Challenge, and Princess Pea now knows it pretty much by heart, I thought that would be a good 'play' to start with.

First, I covered the box with bits of scrapbook paper. I had some that sort of looks like bricks, so I used it on the back and sides. Then I used some that looks like rather grand wallpaper for the front (though I'm not crazy about the colour and may change it sometime). And one that looks like woodgrain for the bottom inside, to make wood flooring for the stage. In retrospect, I wish I had cut the papers a little bigger and folded the edges inside to hide the edges of the box, but oh well.

Next I got a piece of cardboard (I think it came from inside one of my husband's shirts), and cut it to just almost the size of the inside back wall of the box. Then we painted it to make our Gruffalo scene - the 'deep, dark wood'. I'm no painter, but it was pretty simple. Princess Pea helped for this part. I drew a curved line near the bottom and another one near the top, and then she painted a light brown patch in the middle at the bottom for the path, then a light blue patch in the middle at the top for the sky. Then she covered the rest of the cardboard with bright green, and I added dark brown tree trunks, dark green tree tops, and a couple of blackish-brown rocks. Finally, we added a couple speckles of yellow to make bushes with flowers on them.

When it dried, the scene fit perfectly into the theatre, and we can pop it in and out through the front of the box to change scenes for different stories. The paint caused the cardboard to curl up slightly, which actually worked out even better, as it creates more of a 3-D kind of scene, and also makes it easier to slip in and out of the box.

Meanwhile, Princess Pea started working on making puppets for each of the characters. We started using toilet paper tubes, which she painted in appropriate colours for each character. We used a toothpick to paint on the purple prickles all over the Gruffalo's back. But then I remembered that we had a Gruffalo activity book that I'd been holding onto for a rainy day. It had stickers inside of all the characters, so we abandoned the toilet paper rolls and instead just stuck the stickers on some cardstock, cut it out, and taped them onto popsicle sticks. Perfect! I put the sticks on from the top, so that it would be easier to hold them hanging down into the theatre on a tabletop, rather than up from the bottom. There were also a few scenery stickers, so we added them, too, and Princess Pea added one of her Easter bunny stickers so there'd also be a bunny in the woods.

I also want to make a curtain for the front out of red crepe paper (that's the part that isn't finished yet), and to cut a wide slot across the top to put the puppets in that way, as I think it would look more authentic.

But in the meantime, Princess Pea has been putting on Gruffalo puppet shows, and having so much fun with it! My sister even got to watch a Skype puppet show as her birthday present :-) I love this theatre and I'm so excited to make scenes and puppets for other stories she knows too!

(Sorry the pictures aren't super clear. They're from my phone.)

If you're looking for Gruffalo things to make and do, you might also be interested in these posts:

Gruffalo Crumble Recipe
Gruffalo Birthday Party
DIY Gruffalo Window Cling Stickers


PS - A new weekly 'Outdoor Play' linky party will be starting here on Friday! It is co-hosted by me, Kate at An Amazing Child, and Abbie at Greening Sam and Avery. Come by and link up your outdoor play posts! See you then!

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