How to Make a Cave Diorama

Written by erica loop
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How to Make a Cave Diorama
A cave (Cave image by Gonçalo Carreira from

A diorama is a three-dimensional art form in which the artist creates a depiction of a themed scene. This can be a full scale (i.e., life sized) representation such as a wildlife diorama that includes taxidermied animals in a museum of natural history or a small or miniature version. Students can create a miniature cave diorama with features such as stalagmites and stalactites, using a shoebox and basic art materials.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Shoebox
  • Brown and tan construction paper
  • Clear drying, non-toxic glue
  • Clear tape
  • Brown, black and tan modelling clay
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Tempera paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Glitter

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  1. 1

    Place an open shoebox (with no lid) on its side lengthwise (horizontally). Sketch a cave background on the interior of the shoebox, using a pencil. Include rock formations and cave dwelling animals such as bats on the back and water features on the bottom (floor).

  2. 2

    Paint the interior of the box, using the tempera paints and a fine-bristled paintbrush. Distinguish specific rock formations and geologic features by mixing paint colours such a brown, yellow and white to form a variety of shades and hues.

  3. 3

    Draw at least five stalagmites and stalactites onto the brown and tan construction paper, using a pencil.

  4. 4

    Cut out the stalagmites and stalactites using scissors. Bend back the top to create a flap that can then be glued onto the top or the bottom of the shoebox.

  5. 5

    Mold the modelling clay into different sized spheres to form rocks and boulders. Glue these to the bottom (floor) of the shoebox.

  6. 6

    Drip glue down the construction paper stalactites and stalagmites. Sprinkle glitter over the glue to create a sparkling water effect.

Tips and warnings

  • Stalagmites grow from the ground up, and stalactites grow down from the roof of the cave. Note the difference between the two formations while creating the diorama.
  • If you are trying to create a more polished look, cover the exterior in a layer of construction paper with glue.
  • For a more realistic effect, add in real rocks, minerals and stones.
  • Never allow a child to create this (or any other) arts and crafts project alone. Adult supervision is always required.
  • Only use materials that are clearly labelled as non-toxic and safe for a child to use.
  • Check age guidelines as stated on the manufacturer's label for all arts and crafts products used.

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