Inspire Small World Play with a Tissue Box Theater

A tissue box becomes a small world theater in this creative hands-on craft. Kids can 'write' plays for their small actors and perform them in the homemade theater. Have fun with this recycle craft that supports fine motor and creative play.

Tissue box theater small world play

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This DIY theater project can be completed with just a tissue box and basic craft materials. Kids can help design and decorate the curtain and tape the craft sticks in place.

Kids also have the job of performing plays with their small world players!

Related: Farm yard and barn for small world play made from a shoe box.

Tissue box theater

Sometimes the activities that bring the most joy and creativity are made with the simplest materials, and the least amount of instruction. When kids play independently they nurture thinking skills, social interactions, and problem solving.

Child-led activities such as puppet shows and pretend play support the development of early childhood skills including language and social skills in early learners.

This activity provides an opportunity for kids to engage fine motor and literacy skills with small world play.


supplies for tissue box theater


  • tissue box
  • tissue
  • 10 in. (25 cm) drinking straw or wooden dowel
  • tape
  • craft sticks
  • construction paper




Ttissue box  theater for small world play - Preschool Toolkit

                           Top side of the tissue.                     Underside of the tissue.                                          


1. Make a tissue 'curtain'.

  • Lay a tissue flat on the table as shown in the photo.

  • Left photo: Tape 2 or 3 crafts sticks together, then tape them to one end of the tissue.

  • Right photo: Turn the tissue over. Glue a decorative cut-out to the bottom edge of the tissue (same end as the sticks taped together on the other side). For our decoration we cut pieces from construction paper to make a design to tape to the tissue' curtain'. This step is optional. You can leave the curtain white.

  • Right photo: Tape a craft stick to the end of the tissue opposite the design. 

  • Make a tab with construction paper (purple tab shown in the photos). Tape the tab to the craft stick as well as the other side of the tissue.


Tissue box theater assembly

2. Assemble the tissue box theater.

  • Cut the bottom out of the tissue box.

  • Enlarge the opening at the top of the box where the curtain will rise and fall.

  • Poke a hole on either side of the box near the top and insert a straw or dowel.

  • Line the bottom of the theater 'floor' with construction paper ( purple paper shown).


Inside view of the theater craft


  • Place the tissue 'curtain' over the straw as shown in the photo so the design is visible through the top opening of the tissue box. This allows the curtain to face the audience and the tab to be managed by the stage hand!


Curtain for tissue box theater

View back and front with curtain raised.


Place the box on its side so the curtain faces front. Gently pull the tab out of the box. This will raise the curtain.

When you relax your hold on the tab (gently), the weight of the craft sticks on the bottom of the curtain (behind the decorative front) will allow the curtain to lower back to the floor of the theater, covering the stage opening.

Rest the tab on the top of the theater while you are performing your play.

Display a sign at the top of the theater to advertise coming attractions or simply to give a name to your theater. Make your sign with markers or self-adhesive letters on construction paper or cardboard.

While tissue may not seem like a strong material, we were able to raise and lower the curtain numerous times without any damage. It will not be hard to replace the curtain if it does get torn or worn out!


 Theater small world play



Read more on the 'why' and 'how' of small world play:

What is Small World Play and Why is it Important? from Teaching Mama

Small World Play Ideas for Extending Stories from Growing Book by Book


Related: Puffy paint spacesuit added to a small animal figure for a small world  space theme. / from Books and Giggles

Pretend Play and Puppets and Theaters Pinterest boards.


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