Author: Gauri Kshirsagar
If you grew up watching the Muppets or Punch and Judy, you probably understand just how magical puppets can be for children. Through these larger-than-life characters, young audiences learn important lessons and form long-lasting bonds. But it’s not just watching puppets that can make a difference in young children’s lives; playing puppets can have a profound effect on childhood development, too. Handing over a hand puppet or two to your child opens up a world of imaginative and open-ended play.
Puppet play is a sub-set of pretend play (a type of play young children are naturally drawn to) and, like dolls, puppets have been something children have been playing with for a long, long time. For a toy to have that kind of staying power they must be very special. My twins love story-telling and making up stories about their imaginary friends. In fact, puppets engage and entertain children in such a way that kids are having FUN all the while several key areas of development are being addressed!
- Stimulation of Imagination and Creativity: One of the most obvious benefits of puppet play is that participating in this activity can allow your child’s imagination to run free. They can use the puppets or toys to play out any number of scenarios, whether they’re a complete fantasy or truer to real life. I have seen my twins coming up with stories involving their toys, from giving them names, to elaborate scenarios.
- Social and Emotional development: Children often communicate more easily with puppets, giving them confidence to express their ideas and feelings. Shy children can become acquainted with others through the roles they take on. Puppets are also perfect for working out feelings—whether they’re frustrations, anxiety, or fears—in an appropriate way.
- Improves motor skills: When using fingers to move the puppets, your child improves his fine motor skills (small actions such as picking up and holding objects). This way he is able to learn which finger he needs to wriggle in order to make the puppet’s arm or leg move. What a way to coordinate brain-hand coordination!
- Language & Literacy Development: Children can use their imaginations to create their own stories or retell a story using puppets to recite story lines. Their ‘voice’ is expanded with characters that can sing; speak in rhyme, laugh, whisper or cry.
Half the fun of putting on a puppet play comes in planning the performance. But the final result requires a way to let kids showcase their creation. Whether you fashion one out bed sheets or purchase one ready made, a puppet theatre is a must! Hence we decided to make this puppet theatre as a summer project for our twins. The theatre can also be used as a lemonade stand, a cafe, a ticket booth, etc. etc. It’s very easy to make and is made from easy available raw materials.
Making the frame.
The whole frame is made from PVC pipes, it costs around 1800/- for the whole lot.
You will need:
- 6 End Caps
- 2 “L” joints
- 8 “T joints
- 2 pieces of PVC 10 inches long
- 1 piece of PVC that is 36 inches
- 2 pieces of PVC that is 1 and 1/2 inches long
- 2 pieces of PVC that are 29 inches long
- 2 pieces of PVC that are 43 and 1/2 inches long
- 2 pieces of PVC that are 25 and 1/2 inches long
- 2 pieces of PVC that are 3 inches long
- 4 pieces that are 15 inches long
*All the PVC pipe I used was 1 inch pipe
Here’s a crazy map of where everything goes when it is assembled: (the numbers below correspond to the numbers above)
The 2 pieces of PVC that are only 1 and 1/2 inches long go up here at the top. They are the pieces that connect the corner “L” joints to the “T” joints with the awning bar and the top middle bar.
And here is an up close photo of what the bottom half looks like when it is assembled:
The 2 pieces of PVC that are only 3 inches long go down here at the bottom. They go between the “T” joints that hold the feet together and the “T” joints that hold the bottom middle bar to the side bars.
For the design.
The lower portion of the puppet theatre needs to be covered and you can use any fabric or wall paper. I made a customised flex print with the twins’ name on it to give it a personalised touch. The lower portion and the top one cost me around 700/-
I bought a single curtain for 280/- with rings and customised it according to the size
The black boards on either side are a favourite with my twins, writing about the current show and the timings makes it more fun. I bought a single sheet for 250/-
For an added touch I fixed some multi-coloured buntings on top.
Some battery operated lights also makes it more exciting! You can choose your own designs and colours.
I mostly used a hot glue gun to get everything in place. This is a picture of the back portion of the frame.
Though the total cost of making this theatre is around 3000/- it is quite cheaper than the ones available in the store or online, which are not only smaller in size and costly, but difficult to store. This whole frame can be dismantled and kept in storage.
Since it has a large frame with good height 2-3 kids can fit and sit comfortably behind the frame.
And I promise…it’s way easier to make and put together than it looks like in the map…
and once it is finished…
well…you’ll be glad that you made it. It’s nothing but fun. Seriously, my twins love this thing and getting lost in their imagination!
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