How to Make a Water Cycle Diorama for a School Project

Studying the water cycle can teach students to be environmentally conscious and aware of the pollutants humans put in the system that contaminate the water supply. Make a water cycle diorama for a school project to illustrate all the parts of the system that pollution affects. By simulating the process of evaporation, condensation and rain, students can begin to understand how their actions affect people and habitats far removed from their local area. They learn the importance of making wise choices to protect the delicate balance of the water cycle.

Remove the top of a shoebox and set the box on its long side. Cut a thin slit that runs the length of the top of the box. It should be wide enough that a piece of wire can run freely along its path, yet be held securely. Inside the box, cover the top half of the back, sides and ceiling with light blue construction paper or craft foam for the sky. Cut a piece of darker blue and trim a scalloped edge, to represent the ocean. Cut out a brown or black mountain. Trim leftover blue scraps to make a small mountain lake, streams and rivers.

Glue the mountain lake with streams and rivers running down the sides onto the mountain. Glue the mountain at one back edge or interior side of the box. Glue the ocean water so that it covers half the length of the lower half of the back, the side and the floor.

Coat the area between the mountain and the ocean with a thin layer of glue. Sprinkle with pebbles, gravel, sand, dirt, leaves and twigs to represent the land. Trim some more blue foam or paper scraps into thin, winding strips and position the rivers to run across the land from the mountain to the ocean.

Cut two ovals from light blue paper or foam and glue some cotton balls to one, to create a cloud. Tape the cloud to the end of a long piece of wire and sandwich the wire by gluing the side edges of the ovals together. Twist the middle and top of the wire to make a couple of small loops and run another piece of wire through the loops.

Cut some raindrops from darker blue and glue them to short strips of blue yarn. Tie the yarn around the end of the second wire and loop the wire to secure it. Tie white yarn pieces to the end of a third wire and loop it. Insert this wire into the slit above the ocean. The white yarn rising up from the ocean represents evaporation.

Use found materials to add features to the landscape, such as trees, bushes, grass, flowers, fish, animals, houses and people. Arrange them as desired in the setting and secure them in place with glue.

Write a water drop story, following the travels of one water drop through the water cycle.

Tell your story using the movable parts in your diorama to illustrate the processes in the water cycle: evaporation, condensation and precipitation.

Things You'll Need

  • Coloured pencils, crayons or markers
  • Craft foam: white, blues, brown, tan, greens, black
  • Construction paper
  • Shoebox
  • Glue
  • Sand
  • Pebbles or gravel
  • Yarn, blue and white
  • Leaves and twigs
  • Cotton balls
  • Beads
  • Scissors
  • Wire
  • Tape
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About the Author

Tamara Christine has written more than 900 articles for a variety of clients since 2010. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in applied linguistics and an elementary teaching license. Additionally, she completed a course in digital journalism in 2014. She has more than 10 years experience teaching and gardening.