Dioramas are a project often assigned by teachers at all grade levels and may require students to artfully reconstruct an animal habitat. Using a shoe box as the basis for the diorama allows the student to transport and contain the habitat for scoring and classmate review. Students may have the freedom to create a shoe box habitat according to preference or they may have an assigned animal, but in either instance, creativity is crucial to making the shoe box habitat stand apart from the rest.
Rainforest or Jungle Habitat
A rainforest habitat for animals native to the humid jungle can be created in a shoe box. Paint the inner surfaces of the box with green acrylic paint and insert plastic toy trees. Paper trees or trees painted onto the sides of the box are other acceptable means of including the trees crucial to a rainforest display. Paint the bottom surface of the box with slightly watered-down school glue and adhere dried moss (or craft moss appearing as dried moss) or plastic Easter grass to appear as rainforest or jungle flooring. Insert animals native to the rainforest or jungle such as cougars, colorful birds, tree frogs and gorillas.
Creatures of the Sea
Paint the inside of your shoe box in blue acrylic paint, allow it to dry and adhere sheets of light blue cellophane or plastic wrap to each surface to appear as water in an under sea habitat. Turn the box on its end, lengthwise, and hang plastic squirting bath fish from the top with fishing line. An adult may assist with pressing a needle threaded with the fishing line through the fish in order to hang it. Create hanging jellyfish with cut-down coffee filters and strips of crepe paper streamers or tissue paper.
A desert habitat may include snakes, cacti, lizards, rabbits and foxes. Paint sand dunes in the inner sides of a shoe box and blue sky above them with acrylic paint. Mix play sand and common school glue together until it sticks when a ball is formed and mold sand dune pyramids with rounded edges. Allow them to dry completely and insert them into the shoe box. Pour extra play sand around the pyramid dunes and place paper-made or plastic animals native to the desert inside.
Some animals reside in trees and may be right outside the window of your home or thousands of miles away in the African jungle. Paint the shoe box green and glue various faux leaves from floral stems, which can be found in any dollar or discount store, to each surface of the box. It should appear as if the viewer is looking down from the sky into the tree habitat. One idea is to weave a nest from twigs and layer it with down feathers. Carefully place it among the "tree leaves" to appear as a bird's nest.