How to Make a Swamp Diorama

Children become quickly engaged when learning about swamp animals, muddy habitats and plant life as they study the habitat of the swamp. Units on swamp habitats are usually taught during elementary school, along with the study of other habitats and biomes. Making a diorama is one way for a student to demonstrate what they've learnt about swamp habitats.

Begin with an empty shoebox standing on one long side. Place the shoebox lid underneath the long side to form an extension for the bottom of the diorama.

Drizzle glue all over the bottom of the diorama and use one of the craft sticks to spread it around.

Cut an oval shape out of aluminium foil, big enough to take up at least half of the bottom of the diorama. Lightly crumple the foil to give it a textured look. Place the oval on the glue and press down. This forms the swamp water.

Sprinkle some of the grass clippings from your yard around the edges of the swamp water and in a few random places in the bottom of the diorama.

Scoop up some dirt with the measuring cup and pour it around the remainder of the bottom of the diorama, allowing it to set for a few minutes so it can adhere to the glue. Then tilt the diorama over a garbage bag and shake out any excess dirt.

Push six to seven marble-sized balls of sticky tack into random places on the bottom of the diorama. Place one craft stick into each ball of sticky tack to form tree trunks.

Fold green construction paper in half, then in half again so it's folded into quarters. Once folded, cut a treetop shape with a rounded or scalloped edge. You should end up with four tree tops. Glue these to the top of the four craft sticks and leave the other craft sticks empty to represent the deadwood found in swamps.

Fold the white construction paper once. Start at the fold and cut a long, thin triangle about 1 to 2 inches in length. Repeat this two more times. Unfold the three triangles, which will now look like skinny diamonds, and use the masking tape to affix one end of the string to the centre of each diamond shape. Make an upward crease in the middle of the diamond, near the string, and fold the tips of the diamond downward. This creates swamp birds. Affix the other end of the strings to the diorama ceiling using the masking tape.

Cut the liquorice whip into 2-inch segments and the Swedish fish in half. Glue a few liquorice whips, or snakes, in random places around the swamp water. Affix the fish in the swamp water, making them look as if they're jumping out of the water.


Working with dirt can be messy; work outside at this stage to avoid mess indoors.


Plastic trees or animals can be used for quicker diorama props.

Things You'll Need

  • Shoebox
  • Craft glue
  • Craft sticks
  • Dirt
  • 1/2 cup measuring cup
  • Aluminium foil
  • Scissors
  • Grass from outdoors
  • Gray sticky tack
  • Brown and white construction paper
  • 3 pieces of string, 2 to 4 inches long
  • Masking tape
  • Black liquorice whip
  • Swedish fish
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About the Author

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.