How to Make a Stage Set and Props for School Plays

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether it's a small scene staged in a classroom or a play performed in a school auditorium, it's fun and easy to get students involved in making a stage set and props for the performance. No prior experience is necessary and everyone, no matter what her artistic ability, can participate.

Plan your performance. Write down all the scenes in your play.

Make a list of one or two large objects that will make each scene recognisable. For example, if the first scene takes place in a forest, several large trees would be a good idea.

Create a list of props for each scene in your play. If the second scene takes place in the throne room of a castle, for example, then a king's crown and sceptre might be on the list.

Collect the large cardboard sheets you need for your sets and props. Large refrigerator boxes or other appliance boxes work well. Heavy cardboard can also be found at moving and storage companies and art-supply stores. Foam core can also be used for making both sets and props, but it is more expensive than cardboard.

Draw the objects on the cardboard. Have an adult cut out the shapes with a box cutter. Remember to put another sheet of heavy cardboard underneath the top piece of cardboard to avoid damaging carpet or flooring.

Mix the paint or pour pre-mixed paint into smaller plastic containers so that a number of students can be painting at one time. Remember to use paint that cleans up with water. Each small container should have one colour and one brush. Spread newspaper on the floor underneath the cardboard pieces. Have students put on smocks before they begin. Assign students to a particular area to paint.

Paint the shapes while they are lying flat and allow them to dry. Rinse out the brushes and containers so they can be used again.

Cut one large cardboard triangle for each set piece. The triangle should be 1/3 the height of the prop piece. Cut the triangle in half through its top point down through the centre of its base.

Duct tape these two triangles to the back of each set piece, centred along the bottom edge of the set piece. Paint the back sides of the set pieces, if desired.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencils or pens
  • Paper
  • Large, heavy cardboard sheets or foam core
  • Box cutter
  • Newspaper
  • Water-based paints
  • Paint brushes
  • Plastic containers
  • Smocks
  • Sink
  • Duct tape
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About the Author

Bjorck DiMarco has been the Senior Editor at an independent publishing house since 1994. She holds advanced degrees in teaching, English and creative writing, graduating summa cum laude from Tufts University and the University of Massachusetts. DiMarco has also worked in construction, fine woodworking, graphic design and theoretical mathematics.