Paper plate puppet theatre

Paper plate puppet theatre

Paint and puppets – the perfect combination for a creative afternoon. In fact, making these puppets is a big part of the fun. Help your kids create their own handheld theatre, then sit back and let them perform a puppet show for you.

What you need:

  • paper dinner plates
  • black paint
  • coloured paint
  • thin cardboard in a contrasting colour to the paints
  • stapler
  • paintbrush
  • scalpel
  • scissors
  • castle template or dinosaur template (or both!)
  • pencil if you’re drawing your own template
  • tape
  • bamboo skewers
  • cutting mat or chopping board

Number of players:


Step 1. Gather all the materials to make your paper plate puppet theatre.

Step 2. Stack three paper plates together and turn face down on a flat surface (you’ll need some plastic for this one! A cheap plastic party tablecloth is perfect for craft). Three plates gives more support for the top one you’re painting so it doesn’t collapse. Paint the whole back of the top plate in black paint. Leave to dry.

Step 3. Stack another three plates together and on the ‘right’ side, paint a backdrop for your scene. This castle has a rainbow, dinosaurs have earthy volcanic colours, an underwater scene might be blue… Leave to dry.

Step 4. Cut out your template – we’ve got a castle template or dinosaur scene template for you to download (they will fit paper dinner plates with a 23cm diameter) and print, but if you’re creating your own, draw the scene on another paper plate and cut out as a template. The secret is to create a scene that is open on the top for the backdrop to  be seen, but solid enough at the sides for attaching to the backdrop.

Step 5. Trace around the template onto the back of your black-painted paper plate. If you’ve used a print-out you’ll need to press it into the curves of the plate to get the template to fit.

Step 6. Cut out with scissors and use a scalpel to cut any inserts like windows or doors. For the castle doors, only cut the top and bottom – leave the sides.

Step 7. Bend the doors open.

Step 8. Place the black scene on top of your backdrop and staple in place on either side. Don’t staple the bottom – just the sides. There will be a gap between the two plates. This is the “stage”!

Step 9. Snap off the point of the skewer and tape into place on the back. Really dig the tape into the sides of the skewer so it doesn’t just slip out. Cut the bottom of the paper plate across a little to create a bigger gap for your puppets.

Step 10. Create little characters and cut them out of coloured cardboard. Attach bamboo skewers to the back of them to turn them into puppets.

Step 11. Let your children hold the puppet theatre and insert their puppets into the hole at the back and perform a show! Someone from the ‘audience’ can easily hold the theatre so the puppeteer is free to use both hands for two characters!

This craft was created by Belinda Graham, who blogs at The Happy Home Blog.

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