How to Make a Habitat Shoebox Diorama

With a diorama, children learn more than just a lesson in habitats.
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Habitat dioramas allow children to use their creativity and imagination to learn science lessons, since there are so few "right" or "wrong" answers. Dioramas provide a way for the children to visualize the ideas of geography and the interrelationship of animal and plant life. In addition to expanding their science knowledge, dioramas allow children to learn fine motor skills such as coloring and cutting. Children may even learn more about diversity through habitat dioramas, since habitats are so diverse and it is next to impossible for children to produce duplicate dioramas.

    Cut the box so that one large side is absent. If you are using a traditional shoebox, simply remove the lid. If you would like a solid-colored exterior on your box, paint it and allow it to dry before proceeding with the next step.

    Color the interior of the box as appropriate for your habitat. Apply acrylic paint or glue construction paper along the sides.

    Add background details such as a skyline or clouds. Cut tree silhouettes and glue them to the backdrop or glue cotton balls onto your diorama’s sky to imitate clouds.

    If you are not using three-dimensional plant life or plastic animals, color and cut out paper animal and plant shapes. Leave paper tabs on each shape. Fold these tabs backward to provide a gluing surface that allows you to mount these animals and plants to the sides and edges of your diorama.

    Position your animals and plants in the box without gluing them. Rearrange their positions until you are satisfied with the arrangement, and then glue or tape them into place.

    Things You'll Need

    • Shoebox
    • Construction paper
    • Acrylic paint
    • Crayons, markers or colored pencils
    • Scissors
    • Glue or clear tape
    • Paint brush
    • Construction supplies specific to your habitat (such as sand, leaves, grass, small plastic animals, etc.)


    • Use salt dough, clay or play dough to create landscape features such as hills.


    • Children should use child-safe scissors and child-safe construction materials.

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