How to Make a Dinosaur Diorama

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How to Make a Dinosaur Diorama. At one time or another, most elementary school students had to make a diorama as part of a school project. That's still true today, but dioramas have come a long way. Some of them now even contain photographic backgrounds. This new way of creating dioramas is quite remarkable, because the background of photographs works with the peephole viewing method to give off a three-dimensional effect. The materials for this project are simple household items, so anyone can make this diorama at any time.

Prepare the Box

    Cut a 1-inch by 1-inch hole on the shorter end of the shoebox, using heavy-duty scissors or a blade. The hole should be about 1 inch from the bottom of the box. It will serve as the point through which the viewer will peer into the diorama.

    Pour some white glue into the bottom of the box. Quickly spread a thin layer over the entire bottom of the box.

    Dump the dirt into the bottom of the box before the glue dries. Tilt the box back and forth, so that the dirt sticks to the glue on the bottom of the box and then dump the excess. This dirt will serve as the "ground" in the dinosaur diorama.

    Cut the pictures of vegetation so that they are as high as the interior sides of the box.

    Paste the pictures of vegetation to the interior of the box. You don't need to paste any pictures to the side of the box with the hole because the viewer will not be able to see this side. Be sure to cover all of the interior sides of the box, so that the sides look as though they are covered in dense vegetation.

    Take some great digital photos of the dioramas to share with next year's students.

Prepare the Interior

    Glue the rocks into place on the bottom of the box. These will be part of the "scenery" surrounding the dinosaurs. Scatter them in a way that looks realistic.

    Cut five right triangles from the cardboard, if you are using paper dinosaurs.

    Run a strip of glue along one side of each triangle. Glue it to the back of each dinosaur. This will serve as a stand to keep the dinosaur upright.

Assemble the Diorama

    Glue the paper or plastic dinosaurs into place in the diorama. For the paper dinosaurs, run a strip of glue along the bottom side of the cardboard triangle stand, and glue it into place on the floor of the diorama.

    Glue the bits of grass and leaves in place around the dinosaurs. These should look like three-dimensional vegetation.

    Pay attention to the layout of the dinosaurs, rocks, grass and leaves. Group some dinosaurs in realistic clusters, or make some look as though they are emerging from behind rocks.

    View the diorama through the hole you made in Section 1, Step 1.

    Things You'll Need

    • Shoebox
    • Heavy-duty scissors or blade
    • White glue
    • 2 tablespoons dirt
    • Scissors to cut paper
    • Photographs of vegetation from magazines or newspapers
    • 5 or 6 small rocks
    • 5 small pictures of dinosaurs or plastic dinosaurs
    • Small piece of lightweight cardboard, about 5 inches square
    • Bits of grass and leaves


    • Some shoeboxes already have a hole in one side for ventilation. These are ideal for making a diorama. Lining the sides of the box with vegetation photographs makes the dinosaur diorama look particularly realistic. The photographs add depth and color and make the dinosaurs look truly three-dimensional. Colorful images from seed catalogs or flower catalogs look particularly beautiful as backdrops for a dinosaur diorama. Any pictures with a great deal of color and dense vegetation are ideal. If you use plastic dinosaurs, put smaller ones at the back of the diorama, so that they look as though they are standing off in the distance.

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