Shoebox diorama projects

Written by robert dumas
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Shoebox diorama projects
Dinosaur dioramas can use plastic models or dinos cut from card stock. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Dioramas are three-dimensional scenes that can depict anything from natural animal habitats to sword-and-sorcerer fantasy scenes. Although they don't have to be, dioramas are often constructed inside shoe boxes, using card stock and other crafting materials. They are commonly used as school assignments or can just be a fun project to do at home with the kids.

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Dinosaur Scene

To create a dinosaur-themed diorama, you can use dinosaurs cut from construction paper or toy plastic dinosaurs. Make sure the dinosaurs are to scale. In other words, you don't want a T-rex to be bigger than a brachiosaurus. Paint the background blue or use blue construction paper. Glue some artificial grass, like that found in a grocery store produce section, to the bottom of the box. Cut out tropical-looking plants from card stock, colour them and place them along the borders of the front of the box for a 3-D effect. Cut some mountains from card stock, colour them and glue them to the blue background. For a special touch, paint one mountain to resemble an erupting volcano. Place the dinosaurs throughout the setting.

Arctic Scene

If you want to create an authentic arctic diorama, decide if it will be for the North Pole or South Pole and include animals indigenous to that particular habitat. In other words, don't combine polar bears with penguins. If the idea is to be whimsical, authenticity doesn't matter. Paint the bottom and back of the diorama dark blue with acrylic paint or use coloured construction paper. Make the background light blue for the sky. Create some ice floats from styrofoam or craft foam and glue them randomly across the bottom of diorama. Draw some polar bears, reindeer and seals on construction paper (or find some templates online), cut them out and colour them. Glue some to the background. Create tabs for others (L-shaped construction paper strips) that will help them stand. Glue them to the animals and then glue the animals to the ice floats.

Coral Reef

For this diorama, position the shoebox vertically instead of horizontally to create a feeling of depth. Paint the entire box (inside and out) ocean blue or use blue construction paper. Draw sea creatures, such as fish, octopi, starfish, clams, crabs, coral and seahorses, on card stock, cut them out and colour them. Make L-shaped tabs from strips of card stock and glue them to some of the animals. Animals without tabs can be glued directly to the background or to the coral. Position the animals randomly (some in the foreground, some in the background) throughout the diorama and glue in place using the tabs. With the animals in place, glue some sand to the bottom of the diorama to cover the tabs.

Outer Space

Create a celestial-themed diorama featuring planets, stars and comets. Paint the inside of the box black. Before the paint dries, dust the background lightly with gold and silver glitter. Paint some small stars on the background using gold, white or glow-in-the-dark paint. Draw a comet on some card stock, cut it out, colour it and glue it to the back of the diorama. Paint two or three small styrofoam balls to resemble planets and use light-coloured thread to suspend them from the top of the box. Suspend them a different heights and distances from the back of the box for a 3-D effect.

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