Create an entire, interactive world inside of a cardboard box! Add motion and light to a three-dimensional story using simple mechanisms and electronics components. Other tinkering activities like Homemade Switches and Paper Circuits are great resources for thinking creatively about circuits and everyday materials. What story would you like to tell?
Share what you create and try out with us by using the hashtags #TinyTheaters.
Consider the materials you have on hand in your space and how they can be leveraged into constructing a tiny world inside a box. Many great substitutions exist, so don't shy away from trying things wonderful and wacky!
☐ A cardboard box: A shoebox is a great fit for this activity, but also consider food packaging boxes, delivery boxes, and more.
☐ Light source(s): Paper circuits are a great way to illuminate a scene, but consider other light sources like a flashlight or the sun.
☐ Paper and adhesives: Keep general craft supplies nearby like colorful cardstock, scrap cardboard, markers, masking tape, hot glue guns, and utility knives (with adult supervision).
Pick a Cause and Effect
Consider making your story into a relationship between:
light → movement or
movement → light.
In this example, the green traffic light makes the car move.
Sketch Your Circuit
Decide where the circuit will live on your box and where you want to place your LED. Consider your battery placement somewhere near the edge of the box so that a binder clip can hold it in place.
Build a Box
With all of your components ready, start assembling your box. Choose whether you'd like to cut an opening in your cardboard box or use an existing opening. If you're looking to add complexity, consider adding another light to your scene.
Paper circuits aren't the only way to make a tiny theater! Check out this example that uses a moving flashlight to create a compelling early morning scene.