How to build an island for a school project

Written by stephanie kelley
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How to build an island for a school project
Create your own mini tropical island in a few easy steps. (island image by Amjad Shihab from

Although most of us will never be able to afford to buy our own island, we can create an island craft and be the ruler of our own domain. Making an island craft can be an invaluable tool to teach about volcanoes, biomes, weather patterns and geography. Whether you are teaching about a specific island or about islands in general, creating an island craft is a hand-on learning tool to be remembered for years.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Block of styrofoam
  • Sharp knife
  • Paint
  • Glue
  • Trees, rocks and sticks
  • Silk flowers
  • Miniature houses and other decorations

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  1. 1

    Draw a picture of the shape you want for your island. It's best to draw an overhead as well as a side view. Knowing what your island is going to look like in advance will guide you in subsequent steps. Be sure to include low areas around the edges to act as beaches, higher areas (mountains) and flat areas to make your island appear more realistic.

  2. 2

    Carve a block of styrofoam by tapering the edges to give it a realistic beach line. Carve a mountain a little off of centre and create some flat areas too. Leave enough styrofoam as the base so your island will float.

  3. 3

    Paint the base of the styrofoam blue, as it will be representing and sitting in water. Paint beach and mountain areas beige and paint other areas green for foliage.

  4. 4

    Stick trees and branches onto the base by putting glue on the ends before poking them through the styrofoam. Think about the way trees and other foliage grow naturally. Sometimes trees grow in groups and other times they are set apart. Experiment with tree placement.

  5. 5

    Using black, white, grey and brown tone paint, create rock like surfaces on the mountain. You can mix sand into the paint for a texture look. Paint white craft glue onto the beach areas and pour sand on the glue. You may want to apply a second coat after the first has thoroughly dried. Add silk flowers and small houses made from toothpicks. To add even more details, consider putting small people, animals, campsites or any other miniature item that would be appropriate for the project.

Tips and warnings

  • Put your styrofoam block in water at various stages throughout the project to see how it floats and balances.
  • Adult supervision is necessary for this project.

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