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How to Make a Theater Out of a Shoebox

Updated July 20, 2017

Shoebox theatres are a timeless craft that your parents and grandparents probably enjoyed. Create your own miniature landscape for carrying out hours of endless make-believe play with this simple, budget-friendly craft. Perfect for a rainy day activity, these tiny theatres provide children with magical lands where they can develop their own characters and get lost in the wonderful world of make-believe. Use materials you already have around the home to begin exploring the fun of shoebox theatres.

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  1. Cut a hole in the lid of the shoebox to allow light to enter.

  2. Cut a second hole on the front side of the box for peering into the magical theatre land.

  3. Cut a piece of construction paper the same height as the shoebox. Create a cyclorama by placing the construction paper inside the box so it curves around the three sides of the box, leaving the peephole open. The paper will resemble a cyclorama curtain of a real theatre and will eliminate corners, making the scene appear larger than it is when viewed through the peephole.

  4. Decorate the construction paper cyclorama with paints and markers. The cyclorama will be the background of your shoebox theatre setting. Some suggestions for decoration include clouds, rolling hills or a city scene.

  5. Draw additional features for your shoebox theatre scene on construction paper such as trees, buildings and people. Draw an extra 1/4-inch tab on the bottom of each feature similar to the tabs on paper doll clothing. Cut out the features and their tabs. Do not cut the tabs off the features.

  6. Cut a small slit in the middle of the 1/4-inch tab of your paper shoebox theatre scene features. Fold one side of the slit tab forward and the second backward creating a base for the construction paper features. Dab a small amount of glue on the underside of both sides of the tab base. Glue the construction paper features in place inside the shoebox theatre.

  7. Peer in through the peep hole of the shoebox theatre, and enjoy the magical world you have created inside.

  8. Tip

    To create a more active shoebox theatre, remove the lid completely and drape small paper figures attached to fishing line into the box as you peer through the peep hole. Figures can be tied to your fingers and moved around like marionettes within the shoebox theatre. For a night scene, punch small Christmas lights through the top lid of the shoebox illuminating the scene with "stars."

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Things You'll Need

  • Shoebox
  • Scissors
  • Construction paper
  • Markers or paints
  • Glue

About the Author

Based in Bangkok, Thailand, Ramona Volker has been freelance writing since 2008. She has contributed to print magazines such as "Dazzle Travel & Food," as well as numerous online publications. Volker graduated with academic honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2007 and holds a Bachelor of Science in fine art. She is also pursuing a Master of Fine Arts.

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