Build a shadow theatre - title graphic featuring Cardboard Box Creations logo and a finished shadow theatre

Tell stories with shadows! Build a grand little shadow theatre, then shine a light on your puppets from behind to put on a show for family and friends. Will you travel to Germany to tell tales from the Brothers Grimm, or make up your own myths of dragons and knights? The stage is yours!

Remember – cutting into cardboard can be tricky. Ask a grown-up to help or supervise.

You will need:

• Shoebox with lid
• Sheet of white tissue paper
• Glue stick
• Black felt-tip pen
• Wooden skewers
• Tape
• Sticky tack
• Scissors
• A desk lamp

Shadow theatre step 1: illustration featuring a box, paper and pair of scissors

Step one

Remove the lid from your shoebox. Ask a grown-up to help you cut a rectangle out of the base of the box, about 3 cm (1 in) in from the edges, to make a window. Set aside the lid and window cardboard for later.

Shadow theatre step 2: A box, some glue and white tissue paper (illustration)

Step two

Cut a piece of white tissue paper to fit inside the box, large enough to overlap the edges of the window frame, as shown. Use a glue stick to stick the tissue paper edges to the inside of the box base.

Shadow theatre step 3: Illustration of the shadow theatre, and handmade decorations

Step three

From the lid and window cardboard you set aside, draw and cut out some swirly decorations and columns. Turn the box so the tissue paper side is facing you. Stick the decorations to the box using a glue stick.

Shadow theatre step 4: illustrations of shadow theatre puppets

Step four

Draw or trace the outlines of your characters and scenery on cardboard (use your favourite books or magazines for inspiration). Use sticky tape to stick the tops of short wooden skewers to the back of the puppets. Cut longer kebab sticks in half if needed.

Shadow theatre step 5: illustration of a completed shadow theatre and lamp

Step five

Position a desk lamp behind the theatre to create silhouettes of the puppets. Use sticky tack to attach scenery to the inside of the frame. Then put on a show!


Welcome to a world of crafting, creativity… and cardboard! Lonely Planet’s Cardboard Box Creations will take you around the globe as you build 20 travel-themed objects, icons and famous landmarks. Including step-by-step instructions and a starter kit of cardboard sheets with cut-out template guides, you’ll soon become a master cardboard crafter!