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Economic Collapsable Puppet Theater and free downloads  

WE'RE TWO YEARS OLD!!!! I'm a little late getting this SECOND ANNIVERSARY SALE up for you, but hey, a sale this big is great any time! So come celebrate with me and enjoy this great opportunity to grab everything you've been wanting at these amazing slashed prices!!! Sale is good from now through Sunday night Oct. 3, 2010.

YOU MUST CLICK THIS IMAGE TO GET THE SALE PRICES!Today's post is about another project for the Bible class I teach that I hope will inspire some of you ladies who are in similar situations, and even home schooling moms. As I've written before, our church is veeery small and there aren't funds for things I'd like to do for the children in class, so I make everything myself (including the curriculum). Space is at a premium too.

I wanted to be able to do puppet shows for them, but it had to be cheap, small enough for my little class room and store very small. So this is what I came up with. I bought one of those black foam folding display boards like you'd use for a science project. It was about $15, but I got it on a 40% off sale. (If you have trouble finding a black one, I got mine at Michael's.) I measured down 8" from the top in the large middle section and marked it. Then I measured in 4" from both side folds and marked it. Lastly I measured down another 12". Using a ruler I connected dots for a 12" x 16" rectangle and cut it out with a razor knife.

I bought two 7/16" dowels and spray painted them black (to blend in). I got four metal washers that the dowels would fit through from the hardware store. Open the folding board out completely. You will see four outer corners. Very close to the edges of each of the four corners, I used my needle nose pliers to create holes a bit smaller than my dowels, then shoved the dowels through them gently (to protect the board). This makes the holes nice and snug on the dowels to keep the board open fully when it's assembled. After the holes were created, I hot glued the washers to the inside of the folding cardboard to reinforce the holes as they will get a lot of wear over time, assembling and disassembling.
Now I needed a black fabric dense enough to hide me from view, but transparent enough to somewhat be able to see through it so I could tell what my puppets...and my class were doing. Just hold it up to the light or a window in the store to check. I paid $2.50 for a yard of the fabric. First I used straight pins to get it just like I wanted it. I wanted to cover the top to further darken the "stage", so I started with a selvage edge (so it wouldn't need sewn) and pinned it to the front top edge with all extra inside out of view. Then I pulled the rest over the top dowel and let it hang just long enough to hide all it should, but still leave me room to get my arms up under it for the puppets. I folded the raw edges under twice so the raw edges would be encased when I sewed it and raveling wouldn't be an issue. I pinned it that way. Then I hot glued the front part to the back of the board a bit lower than the edge so it wouldn't show. I ran a running stitch up both the pinned raw edge sides to hold it. Be sure to go around front and look in from different angles to be sure everything's hidden.
Voila! Now you have a completely portable puppet stage that fits any car and folds flat to store - just pull the two dowels out! To assemble it, put the dowels in and pull the fabric over the top dowel. I use two straight pins on each side to secure the fabric to the board edges to completely close any gaping. I make sure the pins go into the foam and don't poke out of the board and store them in the same way when it's broken down afterward. I don't pin the very bottom of the fabric as that would restrict my ability to work from behind. When it's assembled, I sit it on the table and lay my script on the table over the lower dowel and it's perfect !

My first puppet show was the culmination of three weeks of lessons that started with the Treasure Found In The Field, then the Pearl Of Great Price and finally the Dragnet of Fish, all parables where Jesus described the Kingdom of Heaven for us. Matthew 13 first puppets would be fish! I found a fab site Epson has in China (through the wonderful CraftCrave search engine - thanks Maria!). They give away downloadable paper projects. I printed the files for two beautiful fantailed goldfish and constructed them. It was a tad challenging given the directions were in Chineese! But they turned out adorable! I spray painted two fat dowels black (fat to be comfortable in my hands). I snipped an "x" in the underbellies of my adorable fish and put a glob of Plastitac on top of a dowel and inserted into the fish. The Plastitac makes the dowels stick to the top of the fish's innards so it doesn't slide during the play, but because it doesn't harden, I can pull the dowels out later and use the same ones for other puppets. Cool! Of course, all this "black" stuff is to make everything disappear except the puppets.
Hope you enjoyed this. If you give it a try I'd love to see pictures! have a great day!
Please support this blog by shopping my PayPal store. God bless you!I can't find the site in China where I got my fish, but here is a link to download lots of Epson's other fabulous paper projects FREE! - click here. Digifree CraftCrave CraftCrave

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