I was sitting with my toddler the day after his birthday, surrounded by all kinds of new gifts. But what was he playing with? An empty cardboard box that previously housed one of his new toys.
All these new toys, and he’s playing with the boxes and wrapping.
Every time we have an empty box – usually, a diaper box – our son climbs in and pretends he’s driving some kind of vehicle. Or he fills it with his stuffed animals and pushes it around. Or, he tries to get the dog in the box.
Just as much as our toddler loves to play with the diaper boxes, I love when I can upcycle them into something useful. We’ve made a fire truck diaper box Halloween costume, storage bins (you can’t tell they are diaper boxes when you cover them with cute contact paper and add a knob), and pretend race cars.
I was looking for an easy fall craft for toddlers, and as my son was running around the house with the empty diaper box on his head, inspiration struck.
We could make simple popsicle stick puppets with a fall theme and use the diaper box for a puppet theater. I got to upcycle a cardboard box, and my son got his “toy” of choice. 🙂
Easy Fall Kids Craft
I love to keep things simple. If it’s too many steps or materials, then it’s not the craft for us.
For our popsicle stick puppets and diaper box puppet theater, all of our materials came from around the house – making the cost nothing!
It was also an easy craft to do, which gave my son enough room to be creative.
Making the Popsicle Stick Puppets
I figured the easiest way to make popsicle stick puppets for fall was by using simple shapes to do so. Since my son is still so young, I drew a few shapes – circles, squares, triangles of various sizes, ovals, and trapezoids and cut them out.
To make the fall craft even easier for you, I created a printable (scroll to end for free printable) with all of the shapes we used – that you could simply print, trace, and cut.
Materials for the Popsicle Stick Puppets
- Card stock or construction paper – I prefer card stock for kid’s crafts because it’s thicker and easier to work with
- Popsicle sticks
- Markers, crayons, or chalk – for drawing faces
- Embellishments – yarn, googly eyes, stickers, buttons, or anything you have around the house
- Glue, Tape, and Scissors
- Optional – Shapes Template (see bottom of the page)
How to Make Popsicle Stick Puppets for Fall
First, trace and cut out the shapes. Then, I placed all of the shapes in front of my little guy and helped him to create fun fall faces. For example, we matched a big triangle to a big oval to make the witch’s hat.
Then, we simply glued the hat to a circle to make the witch’s face. Next, we decorated her face with yarn hair and googly eyes. Last, we taped the face to a popsicle stick.
For embellishments on your puppets, you can use anything that you have around the house. I like to go around and collect things and put them in a bin – and then we have all of our materials in front of us. It’s fun to also include the kids in this – like a scavenger hunt.
My little guy loves running around and finding things to use for our projects. In collecting things, we found some leftover burlap from a banner and cut a piece to use for the scarecrow’s hat. I think that was our best find 🙂
So, we then continued to choose shapes and decorate, turning our shapes into fun fall figures for our puppet theater. My son, who barely sits still, looooved decorating the faces.
I was so impressed with this cute little monster he made. That’s one of the things I love about doing crafts with kids – they will surprise you 🙂
Making the Cardboard Box Puppet Theater
The puppet theater was fun to make because I love upcycling things – less to recycle too 🙂 I simple grabbed a diaper box and got to work 🙂
Materials for the Puppet Theater
- Cardboard box or even a piece of cardboard that you can bend into a trifold
- Xacto Knife (to cut the window)
- Item of your choice to cover the box with – felt, wrapping paper, construction paper, etc
- Glue (type of glue depends on the material you use to cover the box)
- Optional – embellishments such as stickers, felt shapes, letters, etc
How to Make a Cardboard Box Puppet Theater
Since our diaper box was on the small side, our puppet theater was going to be a tabletop theater. You could always use a bigger box or a big trifold and make it a bigger theater. However, I like to use what we have, so a diaper box it was 🙂
First, I cut off the top flaps of the box. I also cut off one of the four sides – to turn the box into a tri-fold. I also removed one of the bottom flaps. Next, I drew a window and cut it out with an Exacto knife.
After that, I grabbed some felt and hot glued it to the box. Surprisingly, I only used three sheets of felt. I love to work with felt and had a huge stack of it, but you could also use wrapping paper or construction paper or whatever you have lying around the house.
Last, my son decorated the front of the theater with shape stickers.
Learning Extensions – Easy Fall Kids Craft
There are so many ways you can tie learning into crafts with kids. This easy fall craft for toddlers was centered upon shapes.
Not only was my little guy identifying shapes but he was working with them to create fun fall puppets – i.e. small triangles make cat ears, large triangles are perfect for hats, and heads can be circles or squares. Other skills that this easy fall craft for toddlers included were the use of fine motor skills to glue, cut out simple shapes and draw faces.
You can also tie this activity in with a fall book, like this pumpkin shapes book. This one is a great Halloween lift-the-flap book – the drawings in this one make it easy to pick out different shapes you see. You could also take a trip to the local library for an extension too.
Last, if your kids are not toddlers, they can totally do this craft more independently. In fact, you could simply print the shapes template, and have them trace, cut, and decorate themselves. And, puppet theaters are perfect for kids of all ages.
So, if you have a box laying around the house or if it’s a rainy, cold day and you are looking for something to occupy the kids, making these easy popsicle stick puppets with a cardboard box theater is the perfect activity.
Your child will love playing with the decked-out cardboard box, and you’ll have yourself a few hours of free time after an easy upcycled project. 🙂