School diorama projects for a rainforest

Updated February 21, 2017

Dioramas are a great way to express your creative side while showing off what you have learnt. Don't be surprised if your teacher assigns a diorama as part of a rainforest unit. The diversity of rainforests and the trees, birds, terrain, fauna, rivers and animals that live there make great subjects for dioramas. Dioramas don't have to be expensive. Use objects around your house and classroom to make a colourful rainforest diorama that shows off your smarts.

Up Close and Personal

Choose the scale of diorama that you want to represent. Consider making your diorama a very focused look at a small piece of the rainforest. You might be able to go as small as the roots of a single tree, showing the vegetation, insects, butterflies or even a small reptile or mammal. A diorama like this could use a shoebox as a container and construction paper to make the leaves. Shredded brown and green tissue paper could be glued on a stick to represent moss. Use a Q-tip and tissue paper to create small flowers. Cut out small animals from construction paper or use clay to sculpt their shapes.

Wildlife Diorama

Take a copy-paper box and turn it on its side. Paint the outside of the box with a solid natural colour like blue, green or brown. On the inside of the box, paint the top and sides a pale blue to represent the sky and the bottom brown to represent dirt. Paint the top half of the back of the box blue and then paint landscape on the bottom half representing additional rainforest stretching backwards. Glue rocks, leaves, branches and grass into your diorama for a realistic look, although one that won't last as long. Take modelling clay and make four to six different kinds of animals that can be found in a rainforest. Place them at different parts of the diorama that match their habitat. For example, you could make a macaw and then use thin "invisible" thread to hang it from the top of the box to make it look like it is flying. You could put an ocelot in a circle of bushes.

Water, Water Everywhere

Instead of putting your diorama in a box, get a piece of flat styrofoam like the kind used in boxes for packing. Paint the entire piece green. Get a second piece to represent higher ground. Cut it to the shape you want for a hill or cliff. Make the piece higher if you want to include a waterfall. Scrape the sides of the styrofoam piece so that you don't have a flat edge but have a rough, rounded edge. On the surface of the styrofoam, scrape out a river, lake or tributary. Spray-paint the hill either brown or green, depending on the terrain you are representing. Get shiny, transparent paper that is green or blue. Cut it to fit into the grooves that you scraped out for your river, lake or tributary. This will provide a shiny surface for the water. Create trees using green and brown pipe cleaners that you can stick into the styrofoam.

Lots of Layers

A rainforest has five different layers: overlayer, canopy, underlayer, shrub layer and ground layer. Have your diorama be a side view that shows all five of these layers. Draw a picture of each layer at different heights on a pieces of poster-board. Colour them in the correct colour and show the correct growth and wildlife at each layer. Then cut it out so that each layer is at a different height. Cut a bottom wedge for each one so that it can stand up in a box. Paste them down onto the box surface with the tallest layer (the overlayer) in the back and the shortest layer (the ground layer) in the front. (See Reference 1.)

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About the Author

As a professional writer since 1985, Bridgette Redman's career has included journalism, educational writing, book authoring and training. She's worked for daily newspapers, an educational publisher, websites, nonprofit associations and individuals. She is the author of two blogs, reviews live theater and has a weekly column in the "Lansing State Journal." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University.