How To Make A Light Up Shoebox Theater

DIY Cardboard Shoebox Theater (with working lights!)

Got an extra shoe­box lying around? Recy­cle it into an arctic-themed pup­pet the­ater with work­ing lights! It’s a blast to make and per­fect for impromptu imag­i­na­tive play, even after the lights go out.

Let’s get started…

DIY Cardboard Shoebox Theater

Note: Because of small parts, this is a project best suited for chil­dren 3 years and older. Older chil­dren and adults can pre­pare the box. Young kids can draw, dec­o­rate, and play with the theater.

DIY Cardboard Shoebox Theater

What You’ll Need

  • Shoe­box with lid
  • 1 piece of card­board, approx­i­mately A3 sized
  • 1 sheet of white copy paper
  • 2 sheets of dark and light blue A4-sized paper
  • 5 or 6 wooden skewers
  • 1 strand of LED Christ­mas lights (10 lights)
  • Small wooden beads
DIY Cardboard Shoebox Theater


  • Ruler
  • Craft knife
  • Cut­ting mat
  • Scis­sors (kid-friendly)
  • Felt-tip pens, black and colored
  • Pen­cil
  • Scotch tape
  • Glue
  • Glue stick
DIY Cardboard Shoebox Theater

Step 1
Mark a frame on the bot­tom of the shoe­box and cut it out as shown. Draw 3 or 4 lines on a long side of the shoe­box. Cut the slots with your craft knife (make sure that they are wider than the wooden skewers).

DIY Cardboard Shoebox Theater

Step 2
To make a plat­form, mark and cut the same lines as before on a slightly smaller piece of card­board that should fit inside the box as shown. Cut two smaller pieces to fit between the two floors, so that the plat­form aligns with the bot­tom of the frame.

Impor­tant note: Try out the sticks at this point: They should move eas­ily; if they don’t, cut the slots wider to accom­mo­date them.

DIY Cardboard Shoebox Theater

Step 3
Glue in the two sep­a­ra­tor pieces and the plat­form. Add glue to the holes of the beads and fit them on the sticks through the slots.

DIY Cardboard Shoebox Theater DIY Cardboard Shoebox Theater

Step 4
Let’s dec­o­rate! Use the lid of the shoe­box for the back­ground. To cre­ate the arc­tic theme,  I used blue and white paper to cre­ate and arc­tic theme. Tear the white paper for the snowy parts. Cut three smaller card­board pieces, then dec­o­rate and glue them between the lines on the floor for lay­ered ice.

DIY Cardboard Shoebox Theater DIY Cardboard Shoebox Theater

Step 5
It’s time to cre­ate your frosty thes­pi­ans! Draw sev­eral pen­guins and a whale (children’s draw­ings make nice pup­pets). Color and cut out the pup­pets. Tape them to the wooden skewers.

DIY Cardboard Shoebox Theater

Step 6
Make sev­eral holes in the back­ground using a wooden skewer and fit in the LED. Tape the elec­tric cord to the back of the lid.

DIY Cardboard Shoebox Theater DIY Cardboard Shoebox Theater

It’s time to turn down the lights and start the play!

For another option, take away the blue paper to cre­ate a snowy for­est. Add a fox, a squir­rel, and other for­est crea­tures as your main characters.

DIY Cardboard Shoebox Theater

Now look who’s stomp­ing through the snow! Oth­ers are too afraid to join the dinosaur, so you’ll need to pre­pare a sec­ond shoe­box for sure.

Have fun!

  • Melissa Kojima

    Haha­haaa! That is just super fun! Great project for the whole fam­ily to enjoy!
    I love the dino at the end!

  • Stacy of KSW

    per­fect! My daugh­ter would love this

  • Toni-Louise

    This is so super cute!! My lit­tle niece would adore it, thanks so much for shar­ing x

  • t.potts

    for sure! We haven’t been snowed in as much as just too cold to go out.

  • t.potts

    We love it! Thank­fully, all three kid­dos just got new shoes so no fight­ing over the boxes!

  • Erin Paulini

    Awe­some. I can already imag­ine the shows the lit­tle one and I can put on. Thanks for the great idea.

  • Janie

    Does any­one know where you can buy the strand LED Christ­mas light (10 lights)?

  • Minti StringArt Arzu

    This is sooo cute, i really want to try this now!