How to make a rainforest in a shoebox with frogs

Updated February 21, 2017

The world's rainforests contain a more diverse range of flora and fauna than any other ecosystem on the planet. These lush tropics are so thick and teeming with life and beauty that most of the world's natural wonders (largest river, highest waterfall, tallest plant, etc.) are found within or near them. You may never have the good fortune to visit one of these places, but you are not out of luck. You can recreate the beauty of a realistic rainforest in miniature form with this project.

Spread the glue or spray the adhesive over all sides of the interior of the box creating a thin layer. Lay the cling film on the inside, covering all sides and corners. Cut away any excess wrap and use plastic tape along the top of the box to secure it.

Place a few drops of super glue on the bottom of the plastic container and adhere it to the centre of the bottom interior of the box. The container should be very clean on the inside and should be no taller than 5 cm (2 inches), so trim the container with scissors, if necessary.

Go outside for this step and Step 4. Use the trowel and plastic bucket to dig up some dirt to go inside of the shoebox. The dirt will form the ground of the rainforest and will fill the bottom of the shoebox up to the rim of the plastic container. Also, collect about 20 pencil-sized twigs to will represent the rainforest's trees. Then collect a large bunch of green plant materials, which can include palm fronds, small green leaves or whatever you can find outside. You can even add a few small rocks or flowers, if desired.

Mix the dirt in the bucket with enough water to make it very moist, but not muddy. Dump enough moistened soil into the bottom of the shoebox around, but not in, the plastic container to fill the container to the rim. Pack the dirt down tightly. Wash the twigs clean of any dirt or small insects that may be clinging to them and insert them into the dirt along the sides of the box. Use plastic tape to hold them to the sides if they do not stand.

Tape or glue the green plant parts to the twigs and sides of the box. You want to make the green plant life look like the canopy of the rainforest, so attach it to the top parts of the twigs and the box, although a few pieces can be placed in the soil. Your creativity plays a huge role here.

Place the plastic frogs in various areas of the box. Open and unravel the twine and snip off 10 15-cm (6-inch) pieces. These will represent vines and should be hanging from the trees. A few long pieces can be draped across the width of the box and crisscrossed like tangled vines. Fill the plastic container in the centre of the box with water and add few drops of blue and green food colour to evoke a murky, tropical pond. The water and food colouring should not be added until the day of presentation, if this is for a school project.


If you are daring, you can use a real frog in this project. Imagine how surprised other people will be when they find that your diorama is made of real material and has real wildlife. The frog should not be large. Punch about five penny-sized holes with the scissors in the box's lid so the frog can breathe. Because this project is designed to create a rainforest from real plant materials, if you live in a big city with little greenery, you may have to make a trip to a local park to get the necessary materials. .

Things You'll Need

  • Very large shoebox (the largest you can find)
  • Bottle of white glue or spray adhesive
  • Scissors
  • Cling film
  • Plastic tape
  • Small, round, plastic container (like a cream cheese container)
  • Small trowel
  • Plastic bucket
  • Cyanoacrylate glue ("superglue")
  • 20 pencil-sized twigs (found outside)
  • Package of plastic frogs
  • Small spool of twine
  • Blue and green food colouring (not neon)
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About the Author

Jeremy Cato is a writer from Atlanta who graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors and an English degree from Morehouse College. An avid artist and hobbyist, he began professionally writing in 2011, specializing in crafts-related articles for various websites.