How to Create a Shoebox Circus

Updated February 21, 2017

If you are going to write a school paper on the circus, such as for a book report, you can make the report more interesting and visually stimulating by making a display that features a circus-theme. You can create a whimsical and realistic circus diorama inside of a shoebox that displays what a real circus performance looks like. Make a circus-themed shoebox diorama using materials that can be purchased from an arts and crafts store or hobby shop.

Take the lid off of a standard-sized shoebox, and discard it. You will be using the bottom portion of the shoebox for the circus diorama.

Paint one side of the inside of the shoebox using dark blue acrylic paint. This will be the floor of the circus tent.

Paint the opposite side of the inside of the shoebox using red and white stripes, which will represent the top of the circus tent.

Paint the short sides and the bottom of the shoebox using many different coloured dots of acrylic paint to resemble an audience of people. Allow all of the paint to dry for 20 minutes.

Paint an empty, clean yoghurt cup using bright yellow acrylic paint, then let the paint dry for 20 minutes.

Insert a hot glue stick into the back of a hot glue gun, then plug the hot glue gun into an electrical socket for five minutes to heat up.

Squeeze a line of hot glue around the opening of the painted yoghurt cup, and press the cup upside down onto the middle of the dark blue floor of the circus diorama. Allow the hot glue to cool for one minute. This will be the step stool for a circus animal.

Squeeze a pea-sized dollop of hot glue onto the top of the step stool, and press a plastic elephant figurine onto the hot glue. Hold the elephant in place for one minute to let the hot glue cool.

Squeeze two to three nickel-sized dollops of hot glue onto the floor of the diorama, and press two to three plastic clown figurines onto the hot glue. Hold the clowns in place for one minute to let the hot glue cool before displaying the circus diorama.


Use hot glue only under adult supervision. Hot glue can cause severe and serious burns on skin.

Things You'll Need

  • Shoebox
  • Acrylic paint, coloured
  • Paintbrush
  • Yoghurt cup
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue stick
  • Plastic elephant
  • Plastic clown figures
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