How to Make a Diorama of an Ecosystem

How to Make a Diorama of an Ecosystem
••• MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA image by janaHB from

Dioramas are three-dimensional visual representations of a place, concept, scene or idea. Because they offer a chance to get a small-scale visual of an idea, they are perfect for giving someone unfamiliar with a topic a more tangible understanding. This makes them perfect for educational purposes. Make one of your own in the ecosystem of your choice.

    Determine the type of ecosystem you would like to create. Some options to consider are rainforest, coral reefs, grasslands, deserts or tundra.

    Research what plants and animals live within the chosen ecosystem. For example, if you are doing an American Southwest desert ecosystem, choose rattlesnakes, elf owls, lizards, spiders and jack rabbits. Plant life could include cactus, sagebrush, cottonwood trees and wildflowers.

    Turn an empty shoebox on its side so you can see into the box. This will be the stage for your display. An extra large box is even better.

    Paint the inside of the shoebox to make the background, or glue down pieces of construction paper or fabric.

    Create replicas of the plants and animals within the ecosystem. Make plants out of construction paper or pipe cleaners. Make animals out of sculpted clay, or cut out pictures from a magazine.

    Arrange the materials in the diorama as desired to create your ecosystem display. You'll have to glue down the elements of the diorama so each piece will stay just where you want it.

    Consider using real elements to put into the diorama. Real grass clippings look great within a diorama about the rainforest, as does sand in a desert diorama.

    Things You'll Need

    • Shoebox
    • Paint
    • Construction paper
    • Clay
    • Pipe cleaners
    • Magazine clippings
    • Plastic wrap


    • To protect the diorama from being damaged, cover it with a layer of clear plastic wrap and tape in place.


    • Figure out ways for your diarama to stand out from others, as there should be plenty of "rain forests" and "deserts" made by others if assigned as a project.

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