Shoebox Dioramas are a part of every school year and in almost every classroom and serve as a great teaching tool. They are used to learn the arts and crafts of making things and they are also used to learn about subjects. This article shows you some creative ideas from the arts and crafts side and the learning side.
Shoebox Dioramas Arts and Crafts
There are a lot of common ways to make a shoebox diorama. They include tape, glue, construction paper, and all the regular combinations of arts and crafts items, but there are a few things you can do to make your diorama a little bit different. Here is a list of ideas:
- If you’re doing an underwater scene, you can cover the front of the box with Saran Wrap or thin plastic. This gives the diorama an underwater feel
- Use the chain to take advantage of the full 3 dimensions inside the box; Hanging objects from strings or attaching strings from side to side and top to bottom and attaching objects to strings. This works well for flying objects like birds, pterodactyls, or even clouds and stars.
- Cut holes in the back and top of the box and use this to insert things that you can move around in the diorama. Make a bird, boat, comet, or other type of moving object and tie a tab to the back of it. Insert this tab into the slot and then you can pull the tab from the back and move the object across the diorama. This adds a nice little interactive element. This works well for all sorts of things from a sunrise, flying birds, a volcano erupting, or anything else that might be moving.
- Think outside the shoe box! There’s no need to run out and buy a new pair of shoes if you don’t have a shoebox. A more than adequate box can be made out of scraps of cardboard or even a few cereal boxes cut and taped together. And there is no need to make a typical shoebox shape. Get creative with the look you make. It adds an important dimension to the project. Semicircular runway shapes are commonly used for dioramas and look great.
- Achieving Depth – The most common feature of a medium shoebox diorama is that it has a textured background and objects placed on the bottom surface. You can add an eye-catching touch by decorating a strip of paper about two inches wide with a leaf pattern and then attaching it to the inside bottom of the diorama about an inch from the back wall — running from the left side to the right side. This adds a lot of depth and makes it look more interesting.
- Use alternative materials – You don’t have to use cardboard or boxes. For example, if you are making a polar bear or penguin diorama, you could use white packing Styrofoam. If you are doing a desert scene, you can apply glue to the bottom of the diorama and sprinkle real sand on it.
Topic ideas and learning tools
The biggest point of a shoebox diorama is to show an object’s natural habitat. In the process of drawing and cutting out the different things the child learns about the habitat. This is great but you can take it to new levels with a little thought and a little creativity.
- Freeze a Moment in Time – A diorama is a moment in time and you can focus on it. Some good examples are you could have a meteor streak across the sky of a dinosaur diorama; This explains the extinction theory. Or you can show a large predatory fish about to eat a smaller fish because it is eating something smaller. This dramatic moment in time is a good showcase for the food chain.
- Habitat Interactions – Often the focus of a diorama is on identifying and correctly positioning objects suitable for a natural habitat but you can take this to a new level by focusing on interactions within a habitat. The upper layer of the canopy in the rainforest blocks sunlight from the lower layers and this is an important aspect of the rainforest. Coral reefs provide shelter to many creatures in the sea and dioramas can display this.
- ADD FACT SHEET – This is a great tool to add to every diorama. You should make a fact sheet that can be pasted on poster board and stand near the diorama. The paper explains the basic facts of what the diorama is about.
Here are some ideas you can use as a theme for your diorama:
- The natural habitat of almost any creature such as fish, polar bears, black bears, penguins, wolves, humans, dinosaurs, camels, lions, tigers, monkeys, elephants, dolphins, and well you get the idea!
- The desert theme complete with pyramids, mummies, and camels is fun
- The rainforest is a good diorama for teaching about diversity and interaction between species
- An astronomy diorama complete with the sun, planets, comets and stars in the background
- Medieval castle scene complete with catapult or dragon
- Underwater scenes are always popular
- Arctic-themed dioramas are fun because of the creative choices of snow and icebergs
Whatever diorama you choose to make, you should take some time to make it different and unique and there are plenty of creative ways to do that. Have fun with your project!