How to make a waterfall model project

Updated February 21, 2017

Waterfalls come in many shapes and sizes, from the thunderous cataracts of Niagara Falls to smaller cascades in local streams. The energy of the water flowing over different types of rock and sediment can cause some waterfalls to move upstream as the water erodes away at the rock. A simple model can be made to illustrate both a cascade and a cataract waterfall.

Place the shoebox upside down on the left side of the cardboard base with the long side horizontal to the bottom of the cardboard. Trace around the box with a pencil. Cut along the two vertical seams at the corners on the right side of the box. This should be the small side of the box. Cut only the vertical seams. Bend the newly created flap inward. Tape in place. Place the box back onto the cardboard base where the traced outline was drawn. Crumple the newspaper in your hands. This will become a rocky surface so the more folds and wrinkles the better. Place the crumpled newspaper on top and toward the left side of the shoebox. Verify that at least one-third of the top of the shoebox is still visible.

Mix equal parts glue and water together in a small bowl. Start with 240 ml (one cup) of water and an equal ammount of glue. Use the paintbrush to apply the glue to the newspaper, shoebox and cardboard base. Cover all surfaces completely. Make more of the glue substance as necessary to coat all surfaces.

Paint the "rocks" of the newspaper grey. Paint the top and sides of the shoebox brown to represent dirt. Paint a circle of blue in front of the "flap" of the shoebox. This represents the pool of water where the waterfall has cut away the soil. Paint a thick line of blue away from the pool toward the edge of the cardboard base. Paint the rest of the cardboard base green for grass. Add details such as flowers, trees, additional rocks or wildlife as desired.

Measure strips of tissue paper approximately three inches wide. Cut enough to "flow" down the rocks, across the shoebox, and over the edge of the shoebox. Crumple the tissue paper in your hands to add texture to the water. Tape the tissue paper in place.


Add labels to the model as desired.

Things You'll Need

  • Sheet of plywood or cardboard, 60 cm (2 feet) square
  • Shoebox
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • 2 sheets of newspaper
  • School glue, 240 ml (1 cup) minimum
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Paintbrush
  • Gray paint
  • Brown paint
  • Blue paint
  • Green paint
  • Blue tissue paper or streamer
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About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Dawn Marcotte has been writing for more than 10 years. Her recent writing has turned to nonfiction and includes articles on home and garden, education, crafts and automotive subjects. She currently has several eBooks published and available online. Marcotte has a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from the University of Iowa.