How to Make a Shadow Puppet Theater from a Box

boy and girl shadow puppet climbing a measuring tape to make a cardboard box theater
22″ x 21″ theater with a 18″ x 14″ screen made of 15″ wide (38 cm) tracing paper

If you want to use a box as your shadow puppet theater, the size of the screen will depend on the size of the box that you use. For puppets the size of about 10″ tall (the size of a the puppets of our templates) you will need the following supplies.


  • large box minimal size 18″ x 21″ or bigger
  • sheet of 15″ wide tracing or unlined parchment (cookie) paper
  • painters/masking tape or packing tape
  • strip(s) of sticky back velcro as wide as the screen (to keep props and holding rods in place)
  • box cutter
  • List of supplies (available on Amazon)

Making the frame

  1. Choose the best surface of the box to serve as the front part of the theater, leaving the two adjoining sizes for support.
  2. Draw a rectangle that is 14″ in high and 18″- 22″ wide, depending on the width of the box. The borders from the top and the side should be about 2″ wide; the space beneath the screen should ideally be 5″ or higher.
  3. Cut out the rectangle and attach the parchment paper on the inside of the box with tape
  4. Cut the sides of the box to size and decorate the box as needed

Space under the screen to attach puppets and props

If you want to act out stories you will need to keep puppets in place by attaching the holding rod underneath the screen. In addition, you might also like to use props (a table, a manger, a beanstalk, etc.). To keep puppets and props in place, you can stick a single or double row of velcro strip  underneath the screen, which will allow for easy attaching and removing from the screen. Alternatively, you can use paintings or masking tape, which can be easily removed without tearing the cardboard.

Light behind the screen

If you sit in front of a window daylight might be proficient. If not, darken the room and attach a clip-on book light on the top of the screen or use a cellphone flash light behind the screen, supporting the flashlight with a book or other object to get the right angle.



Helene van Rossum

Author: Helene at Past Times

Helene is the founder of Past Times and a crafter, archivist, and children’s book author. Her passion is bringing history to life for children, classrooms, and families through imagination and play.

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  • Years ago I had a shadow puppet stage and we used to ta act out the Christmas story in Sunday School. The kids would take turns: someone would read the story from the Bible, someone else would work the puppets, and a third child would play traditional Christmas carols on the little harp with the cards that slip under the strings. Everyone had a turn to do each of these at least once. By the end of the Christmas season everyone knew the story well. It had come alive for them. And everyone had become familiar with the traditional music which has become part of the season for many generations. Some years when we had more kids we used an overhead projector to cast the shadows on the wall.