Shoebox 3D Habitat Projects

Habitats contain the food, water, shelter and space that living things need to survive. A habitat may be as large as a forest or as small as a pond or flower garden. Habitats in any given area are determined by the type of soil, climate, plant and animal life existing there. When creating three-dimensional habitat projects, create models that illustrate all of these important elements for the chosen habitat.


Paint the inside box bottom and all but one long side a sky-blue colour. Paint a bright sun in the sky. Stand the box up on its long side. After brushing a layer of school or craft glue on the inside of the long, bottom side, sprinkle a thin layer of sand on the glue. Once the bottom is dry, mound small piles of sand in a couple of places to form slight hills. Arrange rocks in several areas. Place small, live, potted or artificial cactus in the model. Desert animals include scorpions, tarantulas, lizards, rodents, foxes and hawks. Acquire small toy model animals or create clay ones. Place the animals in the habitat in appropriate places such as under the edge of a rock or cactus as if seeking shelter. Secure them with hot or craft glue.

Temperate Forest

Paint the inside bottom and all but one long side of the box a blue colour representing the sky. Include clouds and sun if desired. Stand the box on its long edge. Glue pieces of artificial or real grass and leaves on the bottom of the box for the forest floor. Glue twigs to the blue background as tree trunks. Include a paper or straw bird nest in one or more of the trees. Add artificial or paper leaves to the trees. Arrange rock "boulders" and smaller bushes around the forest floor. Create clay models of forest animals or use small toy models. Examples of temperate forest animals include birds, deer, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, turtles, porcupines, bears and raccoons. Place these in appropriate places such as in trees or on rocks and secure with hot glue.


Paint the bottom of the box and all but one long side blue. Include clouds and sun as desired. Stand the box on its long edge. Glue a few twigs to the blue sky background to create trees in the distance behind the pond. Add painted or paper leaves to them. Cut a large oval pond shape from glossy blue paper such as gift wrap or speciality craft paper. Glue the oval on the long edge that is the habitat model bottom. Around the blue oval pond place rolled up pieces of modelling clay. Into the modelling clay push small pieces of straw or artificial reeds to simulate the reeds that might grow along the pond edge. Cover the remaining bottom of the box in dirt, grass or leaf material. Cut lily pad shapes from green felt, paper or artificial plant material. Glue these on the blue paper pond. Create pond creatures such as frogs, fish, birds, insects, turtles and small mammals. Place these in and around the pond, securing them with glue.

Savannah Grassland

Paint the inside bottom and all but one long side of the box a sky colour. Stand the box up on its long edge. Along the bottom of the sky background, glue pieces of straw or artificial grasses to represent the tall savannah grasses. Glue dirt and straw on the box bottom to represent the savannah ground. You can include a small, blue paper pond to represent an animal watering hole. Glue a couple of twigs with paper leaves to the background to represent the sparse trees of the savannah. Add a few, small bushes to the model floor made from clay, paper or artificial plant material. Savannah animals include elephants, zebra, lions, gazelles, rhinoceroses, giraffes and birds of prey. Place toy, paper or clay models of these in the habitat, securing them with glue.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Stover, an 18 year veteran teacher and author, has a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Maryland with a minor in sociology/writing. Stover earned a masters degree in education curriculum and instruction from the University of Texas, Arlington and continues to work on a masters in Educational Leadership from University of North Texas. Stover was published by Creative Teaching Press with the books "Science Tub Topics" and "Math Tub Topics."