How to make fake trees for dioramas

Updated November 21, 2016

Children and adults alike are fascinated by dioramas. When children make a diorama for a school project not only do they learn about plant and animal life by putting together a diorama, they also discover creative ways to duplicate elements found in nature. Trees can be made using a variety of common items most people have at home. The materials you use will depend on whether you want to make pine trees or leafy trees. Following are enough ideas to make a diorama with a forest full of trees.

Collect pinecones from the outdoors. Using a small paintbrush, paint them green. Set them aside to dry. Tape them to the back of the diorama upside down so they appear to be standing upright like pine trees in a forest.

Collect thick sticks from outdoors that have smaller twigs branching off them. Place the sticks in a small clay base to stand them up. Using green tissue paper, cut out simple leaf shapes. Double over several sheets of tissue paper so you can make a few leaves at a time. Glue the tissue paper leaves to the branches of your "tree."

Take a cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels or toilet paper. Cut it to the size you need. Collect small green leaves from outdoors. Tape the leaves to the top of the cardboard tree trunk to make your tree. This project works well with younger children whose fine motor skills aren't yet fully developed.

Collect 5-cm (2-inch) long pieces of tree bark, especially pine. The pieces should be about 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide. Tape a triangular-shaped piece of cardboard to make a narrow point at the top. Cut a few strands of green yarn about 5 cm (2 inches) long. Knot the strands together at one end. Brush them out with an old hairbrush until the strands loosen and get fluffy so they look like pine needles on branches. Make three bunches like this. Tape one to the cardboard top of the tree and two beneath it so they overlap onto the bark, making them look like a pine tree. Place the bark in a clay base to hold the tree upright, or tape it in place against the back of the diorama.

Take an empty glue stick container or pill bottle. Cover it with brown construction paper or paint it brown so it looks like a tree trunk. Glue on construction paper branches shooting upward in different directions. Cut leaves from construction paper using a simple leaf pattern. At the foot of the tree put some acorns to make the trees look like mighty oaks.


For a winter scene, add white paint and a touch of sparkly glitter to pinecones already painted green. You can try making more elaborate and recognisable trees like palm trees by copying pictures from books. Add mulch, grass or moss to the floor of your diorama to give it a touch of realism.

Things You'll Need

  • Green and brown clay
  • Paper towel cardboard tubes
  • Green tissue and construction paper
  • Green yarn
  • Old brush
  • Sticks, pinecones, acorns, and small green leaves
  • Green paint
  • Glitter
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