Creative activities catch your child’s attention. They bring laughter and joy and put the fun into learning.
Spaghetti box theater is a great routine buster that you can return to again and again. It’s good old-fashioned family fun that nurtures imagination and offers many surprising turns. The activity is easy to set up and will hold your child’s full attention. You’ll need (1) spaghetti sticks (normal, not thin) (2) spaghetti box kids and (3) a spaghetti box. You might prefer a mostaccioli or rigatoni box because the box is wider and will give you more “theater” space.
Here’s what you do: use fine tip colored markers to make spaghetti box kids approximately two inches tall. The figures can be entirely make believe, or can resemble favorite characters from storybooks. They don’t have to be perfect! Your child can help here, depending on her age, but keep in mind the figures are very small (and so, particularily challenging to children). Now cut out the spaghetti box kids. A rectangle shape around the figure is good enough, unless you are determined to cut out the actual shape. Now use a small bit of tape to attach the figures to the end of spaghetti sticks and you have spaghetti box kids.
To make a theater, make cuts in the shape of a capital ‘ I ’ in the back of a your spaghetti (mostaccioli) box. (figure 1) Fold the two halves outward like wings. (figure 2) Now cut an opening on the front of the box big enough for two figures to occupy the space. (figure 3) Now you have a spaghetti box theater. (figure 4) For additional effect drape a piece of cloth over the back of the box. You can also attach a piece of wavy construction paper to the inside top part of the opening (to resemble drapery valence along the top of the theater when viewed from the front). There are really no restrictions on how to go about decorating the box, and your child will love this part of the activity. Refer to yourselves as “stage crew” when you are decorating the theater, and also when you are doing routine maintenance. For instance—It looks like we’re going to need the stage crew over here pronto with a bit of tape! The upper right section of the theater is coming undone!’
- The theater is best situated when you are sitting in a chair at a table. Just place or tape the box to the edge of the table and get started.
- The whole event works best if you announce it in advance. If you have a schedule, mark it on the schedule. Otherwise, just announce that tonight is spaghetti box theater—8:00!
- The activity works very well with three or more people. This allows two people to perform (which makes for easy dialog) while also providing an audience.
- Give your child a chance to be on both sides of the performance (spectator and performer).
- If you are limited to two people—you and your child, then explore
the following: one performer & one audience member/ two performers in separate theaters (or “houses”) having a dialog/ two performers without an audience (call it “rehearsal” if you like).
Give thought to the “content” (story ideas) in advance so you don’t come to the activity empty handed. You don’t need a script. Just have some good broad concepts that can be put into play. A fun strategy is to enter the half-way point of a classic story and then take matters into your own hands. For example, begin with the ‘Magic Fish’ story when the main character is about to make his third wish. Just then he bumps into Character B (your child). Character A tells of the very silly wishes he has already made (lots of questions will follow) and looks to be on the verge of repeating his mistake. Together the characters try to resolve the dilemma of the third wish. This theme can be played over and over with fresh results every time.
Other story ideas:
Additional Resources: free Printable Puppets . Includes ready made & ready to color puppets.