Using a Tri-fold Presentation Board for a Durable Screen

Inside of a shadow puppet screen showing a girl and boy puppet with holding rods
Inside of a full-size black trifold screen with clip-on piano lamp (puppets attached with velcro)

If you are thinking of doing shadow puppetry more than a handful of times you may want  to invest in a durable frame that can be stored easily and will withstand stains and humidity. One way of doing that is using a ready-made presentation board that is used for school presentations or fairs (available in craft or office supply stores).

What you need (for suggestions at amazon: see Supplies)

  • Foam or cardboard 48″ x 36″ (folded 24″ x 36″) inch tri-fold presentation board
  • Sheet of 15″ wide tracing or parchment (cookie) paper
  • Painters/masking tape
  • Strip(s) of sticky back velcro as wide as the screen (to keep props and holding rods in place)
  • Box cutter and cutting mat or other appropriate surface to cut the board

Making the frame

Desktop screen made of two halves of a presentation board, attached to each other with split pins (puppet info here)

You can use one full tri-fold presentation board to make one tall desk top theater or two half sized theaters by dividing the theater into two 48″ x 18″  (folded 24″ x 18″) inch boards. For an extra sturdy theater you can also attach the two halves together using split pins (above).

  1. For the screen: cut out a 20″ x 13″ rectangle with a border of 2″ on the top, 3″ on the bottom, and 2″ on either side. (If you use the full size presentation board for one tall screen you can make the top border 3″.)
  2. Cut out a piece of 22″ x 15″ of the parchment paper and attach the paper with masking or painters tape on the inside of the screen. Attach the corners of the paper first with a piece of tape and adjust the position of the corner tape when the paper is not straight. Cover the sides completely.

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 sticky back bristly/rough velcro strip underneath the screen.  You can use soft velcro to keep holding rods for puppets and props in place. Alternatively, you can use paintings or masking tape to attach the rods to the screen, which can easily be removed without tearing the cardboard.

Light behind the screen

If you sit in front of a window daylight might be proficient. If not, attach a clip-on light on the top of the screen or a desk top lamp or flashlight shining upward and darken the room.

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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