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Homemade Show-and-Tell Theater for Summer Photos by Brenda Ponnay for

Homemade Show-and-Tell Theater for Summer Photos

By Brenda Ponnay

Now Showing on a Very Small Screen: Your Summer Vacation Photos

You’ve done scrapbooking and you’ve done the homemade movie…what other way can you share your summer vacation with the class without everyone drifting off to snoresville?

Smiley El Teatro Girl

How about a little mini theater with real sliding-action pictures? It’s like slide show 1.0!

movies 1.0

Whatever you call it, your kids will have a blast creating their own mini theaters that they can decorate however they choose. As a bonus, when they’ve finished you’ve got a place to store all those summer “treasures” like seashells and rocks and that cheap souvenir from what-was-that-place-again?


First you’ll need a small box. A shoe box will do fine as long as it’s bigger than your average photograph. Next you’ll need to cut two 5-inch vertical slits about six inches apart (responsible adults to do this step). This is where your paper “film strip” will thread through. If you want, you can create a false front to make your theater extra-fancy.

Then paint and decorate! (Water-based children’s paint is the safest.)

green, of course


You can decorate your mini theater any way you like! Gluing on some seashells from a trip to the beach, or sticks and rocks from a camping trip might be fun. We didn’t have anything like that on hand so we just decorated with some glow-in-the-dark star stickers and paint.

contemplating the story board

Now it’s time to create your movie, or moving storyboard if you will. I just printed out a bunch of our favorite photos and my daughter and I arranged them on a long strip of paper in the order we thought would work best for a “movie.” The dimensions of our paper were five inches tall by three feet wide, which is a good size for laminating machines. If you want to break out the roll of clear contact paper, you could probably make your movie longer than three feet. Personally, I hate laminating things by hand. I saved myself a giant headache with a quick trip to Kinkos which cost less than six bucks. I’m sure some scrapbooking laminators might work well for this too.

threading the film

Then we threaded our laminated-paper “filmstrip” through the slits by way of a trap door that I cut in the back of the theater box. It’s pretty simple. The rest is up to you!

my great movie

Pop some popcorn and have some fun!

About the Author

Brenda Ponnay

Brenda Ponnay is a stealthy secret agent who juggles parenthood to her adorable daughter by day and freelance graphic design/illustration by night. Whether it’s painting, baking, drawing, mak...

Brenda Ponnay is a stealthy secret agent who juggles parenthood to her adorable daughter by day and freelance graphic design/illustration by night. Whether it’s painting, baking, drawing, making castles out of cardboard boxes or just doing the laundry with flair, Brenda Ponnay has learned that what really makes her happy is being creative every single day.

You can read about all her crazy adventures on her personal blog: Secret Agent Josephine.

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  • bethany actually

    August 27, 2009 at 11:58 am

    I love that this could be as simple or as complicated as you make it. Crafts that are customizable to the child’s (or parent’s!) ability level are always welcome.

  • Jingle

    August 27, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    This is just so cool! I love it!!!

  • Jamie

    August 27, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Good Lord, could that child get any cuter?! Looks like you two had a blast, as always.

  • xashee

    August 27, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    what a CLEVER & FUN idea! thank you so much for sharing! 🙂 Have a BEAUTIFUL day! 😀

  • jules

    August 27, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Nice project. What kind of paper did you use? Or, where can I find that size paper? Thanks.
    Brenda says: I used Drawing paper roll from Ikea. ( I love that stuff. It works for everything.

  • Everyday Learning

    August 28, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    My daughter is OBSESSED with movies…she’s always asking how they are made. I constantly hear, with a sigh, “I wish I could live in the TV.”
    Now I think she can. This is awesome.

  • lea

    August 31, 2009 at 12:39 am

    what a neato idea. thanks for sharing!

  • Teacher Teacher

    August 31, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Now this does indeed dress up the “what I did this summer” reports. How cute, fun, and utterly perfect. Happy to have found your project.

  • Amy @ Let's Explore

    August 31, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Love, love, love it! Definitely something my girls would enjoy making and sharing! 🙂

  • Katherine Marie

    September 2, 2009 at 10:14 am

    FANTASTIC!!!!! FUN!!!! FABULOUS!!!!!!

  • Rachel

    September 3, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    This is so cute! I want to make one myself. I’ll be linking.

  • Tess

    September 3, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    I love this! I have an idea to do it with some kids that I visit but rather than pics, I think I’ll pencil in boxes and let them draw pictures to go along with their own stories and imaginations. Great tutorial, thanks!

  • Shailly

    July 8, 2014 at 3:22 am

    My son has show and tell every week this is simple and beautiful thanks for sharing ……….