How to make a tornado diorama

Updated July 20, 2017

Whether as a science class project or a demonstration for children, a tornado diorama is a tangible illustration of the appearance and effects of the weather wonder. While tornadoes vary in size, strength and shape, a long, rope-like tornado is perhaps the easiest to simulate in a diorama. Your tornado diorama need not be elaborate to demonstrate a tornadic scene. A few craft and household items are all you need to create a somewhat realistic tornado diorama.

Spray paint the exterior of a large shoebox with black paint. Let dry. Spray paint the interior with a grey-green colour to represent the eerie sky. (The National Severe Storms Laboratory website describes the sky as "dark, often greenish.") Let dry.

Place the shoebox on one of its long sides. The side resting on the table will be the bottom of the diorama.

Add greenery to the diorama. Cut a piece of green felt to be the grass for the diorama. Use spray adhesive to adhere the felt to the bottom of the box. Cut trees and bushes from another piece of green felt. Use spray adhesive to glue the trees and bushes to the sides and back of the box. Alternatively, use miniature trees (found in fish tank supply aisles of pet stores) for greenery; hot-glue into place on the felt grass.

Form the tornado. Roll self-hardening clay into a rope---about 5 cm (2 inches) longer than the width of the box. Fit the clay rope inside the box vertically. Hot-glue the top of the tornado to the top of the inside of the box.

Adjust the clay tornado so that it appears to be winding a little. Hot-glue the bottom of the tornado to the "grass" in the bottom of the box. Allow the clay tornado to harden completely.

Create a "wall cloud" out of polyester fibrefill stuffing. Spray paint about four large handfuls of stuffing with the grey-green paint. Allow to dry. Pull off a small handful of the stuffing and set aside.

Use spray adhesive to attach the cloud to the box around the top of the tornado. Hot-glue the remaining handful of the stuffing around the base of the tornado (to look like dirt and debris).

Add final touches to the tornado diorama. Hot-glue a miniature house (such as a miniature dollhouse made for dollhouses), some overturned miniature farm animals, a flipped toy car, etc.

Things You'll Need

  • Large shoebox
  • Black spray paint
  • Gray-green spray paint
  • Green felt
  • Scissors
  • Spray adhesive
  • Miniature trees (optional)
  • Self-hardening clay
  • Hot glue gun
  • Bag of polyester fibrefill stuffing
  • Miniature house, farm animals, cars
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About the Author

Monica J. Miller has been a freelance writer since 2005 and is published in "A Time to Love Magazine." Miller has more than 20 years of experience crafting. She writes on a variety of subjects, including parenting, family and relationships, business partnerships, Christianity, gift giving ideas and health issues.