How to Make a Shoebox Diorama of Astronauts

The NASA Kids Club website offers inspiring images for kids interested in becoming astronauts or making their own pictures of astronauts, space shuttles or lunar rovers—vehicles used to explore the moon’s surface. The diorama project gives kids a chance to create a 3-D scene based on what they learn about space exploration and astronauts. Use common objects and craft supplies to give the diorama dimension. Allow at least two hours for constructing the diorama.

Take the lid off the shoebox and set the shoebox on the table with the opening facing up. Cut out a star backdrop and glue it to the bottom and sides of the shoebox. Pour glue—the size of a half-dollar—into a jar lid. Use cotton swabs to apply the glue to the bottom and sides of the shoebox. Carefully press the magazine page of stars against the glue. The bottom of the shoebox becomes the back of the scene when you stand the shoebox up on one of its long sides.

Draw two astronauts with a pencil on the card stock. Astronauts usually work in pairs. Make the astronauts at least 2 inches wide and 5 inches tall. Use a picture of real astronauts as a model.

Use a black or grey felt tip marker to show the creases in the astronaut’s suits, outline the faceplate, gloves and boots. Make two diagonal lines on each faceplate to show reflection.

Cut the astronauts out carefully with the safety scissors or have an adult help.

Apply glue in a zigzag from top to bottom of one side of a toilet paper tube. Gently press an astronaut to the tube so the astronauts’ feet are even with the bottom of the tube. Glue one astronaut to each toilet paper tube. The tube helps the astronauts stand up.

Place the shoebox on one long side, so the backdrop of stars is in the back and the opening is in the front.

Construct a scene with the astronauts.The Davenport School of the Arts "Elementary Moon Exploration" program suggests creating a diorama of the Apollo moon landing. The website advises gluing beans to the bottom of the shoebox diorama and covering it with aluminium foil to represent the uneven moon surface.

Glue the beans to the floor of the shoebox diorama. Zigzag glue over the shoebox floor and beans. Cover the floor of the shoebox with the foil and press it down on the beans and glue to make the uneven surface of the moon or the astronauts’ training ground.

Add any other items to the scene, such as a picture of a lunar rover, using the same method from steps 1 through 3. Put larger items farther back in the shoebox and smaller items closer to the opening.

Use a cotton swab to create a circle of glue on the diorama floor for each astronaut. Press each astronaut onto a ring of glue and hold on while doing a slow rocket launch countdown from 10 to one.

Things You'll Need

  • Large shoebox or boot box
  • Magazine pictures of stars from “National Geographic “or science magazines
  • White glue
  • Jar lid
  • Cotton swabs
  • Pictures of astronauts from a book, magazine or website
  • Card stock or stiff paper such as a stiffener from a T-shirt package
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Felt tip markers—any kind
  • Safety scissors
  • 2 toilet paper tubes from empty toilet paper rolls
  • 25 dry lima or kidney beans for ground texture (optional)
  • Aluminium foil
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About the Author

Gryphon Adams began publishing in 1985. He contributed to the "San Francisco Chronicle" and "Dark Voices." Adams writes about a variety of topics, including teaching, floral design, landscaping and home furnishings. Adams is a certified health educator and a massage practitioner. He received his Master of Fine Arts at San Francisco State University.