Dinosaur Diorama

Have fun learning all about dinosaurs by constructing your own prehistoric shoebox diorama.

Safety Tips

  • Keep the glue gun out of young children's reach.
  • Watch out for this sign Ask for an adult's help. It means adult help is needed for the particular step.
Dinsoaur Diorama craft

Materials

  • Shoebox
  • Card stock
  • Newspapers
  • Crayons or colored pencils
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brush
  • Crepe paper (green, brown, other colors optional)
  • Craft sticks
  • White glue
  • Glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard or paper plate
  • Small paper bowl or egg carton
  • Blue aluminum foil
  • Craft foam flowers, paper flowers,
    or flower sequins (optional)
  • Pape cleaner or craft wire (optional)
  • Cotton (optional)

Steps

Step 1 Dinosaur Diorama craft Ask for an adult's help1.

Prepare the box

There are many ways to position a shoebox for your diorama. We've positioned our one-type piece shoebox (lid is attached to the box) with the box lid open for maximum space.

To keep the lid permanently open, use glue gun to attach craft sticks or any rigid material along the box's hinge.
Step 2 Dinosaur Diorama craft 2.

Plan the details for your diorama

Think about the prehistoric period that you want to portray and plan what details you'd like to include such as the type of dinosaurs, plants, bodies of water, volcanoes, etc. Ours is a Cretaceous period diorama, which is known for its lush rainforest-like environment and iconic dinosaurs such as the Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops and Spinosaurus.
Step 3 Dinosaur Diorama craft 3.

Paint the box

Paint a background (e.g. sky or forest) inside the shoebox using acrylic paint. We suggest doing a layer of white acrylic paint first (primer) before painting over with the final color. You may also paint the outside of the box if you like.

*Instead of painting, another option for the background is to cover the inside of your box with colored paper.
Step 4 Dinosaur Diorama craft 4.

Add background details

You can either paint or glue on details onto the walls of the box. We've created clouds by gluing on wisps of cotton.
Step 5a Dinosaur Diorama craft 5.

Create rocks

To make rocks for the background, cut a paper plate or thick cardboard into sections. You may either paint them or glue on strips of black or brown crepe paper.

Before gluing the strips of crepe paper, slightly crumple them up to give the rocks a textured surface.
Step 5b Dinosaur Diorama craft   Glue the rocks onto the background.
Step 5c Dinosaur Diorama craft   To make rocks for the foreground, cut a small paper bowl or egg carton into sections. Arrange and glue them onto a corner or wall of your box diorama. Once the rocks are in place, you can cover them with crumpled-up strips of crepe paper.
Step 6a Dinosaur Diorama craft 6.

Make trees

Draw a tree trunk on cardboard or thick cardstock. You can also print out this Tree (Template #1) on A4 or Letter size cardstock. Cut out the tree trunk. Draw a straight line from the branches to the roots. This marks the straight edge where the tree will be attached to the side of the shoebox. Fold back the trunk along this line to create the side tabs.
Step 6b Dinosaur Diorama craft Fold back along the base to make a bottom tab. Paint the tree trunk or cover it with crepe paper similar to the method used on the rocks.

Position the tree in your diorama by gluing the side and bottom tabs onto the box.
Step 6c Dinosaur Diorama craft Cut green crepe paper into strips. Crumple them up slightly and glue them onto the branches and onto the edges of the box.

*If you want a three-dimensional tree instead of the flat one we made, you can head over to our 3D Paper Tree craft for instructions.
Step 6d Dinosaur Diorama craft Tightly twist the entire length of a strip of green crepe paper to make jungle vines. You may further wrap the vine around a pencil to make it more coily. Glue one end of each vine onto the box's ceiling.
Step 7 Dinosaur Diorama craft 7.

Add a body of water

Make a river or any body of water by gluing on colored foil or blue crepe paper. After coloring the aluminum foil, crumple it up. Spread it out flat before gluing onto the box.
Step 8a Dinosaur Diorama craft 8.

Build the ground

For this diorama, we're doing a papier mache to make a three-dimensional ground. Tear newspapers or any paper for recycling into strips. Crumple up each strip and glue onto the bottom of the box.
Step 8b Dinosaur Diorama craft Continue gluing newspaper strips until you've built a ground for the entire landscape.

*As an alternative to a papier mache ground, you can use clay or salt dough to cover the entire bottom of the box. If you don't mind a flat ground, another option is to simply cover the bottom of the box with green or brown construction paper or craft foam.
Step 9a Dinosaur Diorama craft 9.

Make ferns and plants

Use crepe paper or any thin sheet of paper to create various plants. Due to the many options you can do, we've put the instructions for making these plants in its own craft page.

You can read up on the prehistoric period you're portraying and try to make the plants based on what you've read.
Step 9b Dinosaur Diorama craft Position the plants in your diorama. Put lots of white glue at the base of a plant and push it into the newspaper ground. Pat the newspaper around the base to fix the plant in place. If necessary, put additional glue and newspaper strips around the base for added support.
Step 10a Dinosaur Diorama craft 10.

Finish the ground

Cut brown or black crepe paper or tissue paper into 1-inch wide strips. Prepare your papier mache paste and use a paint brush to apply paste onto a section of the newspaper ground. Lay a few strips of crepe paper over the paste. Brush the crepe paper strips over with more paste and gently pat down so that the wet crepe paper sticks onto the newspaper.
Step 10b Dinosaur Diorama craft   Continue until you've covered the entire ground. Allow the ground to dry (takes about 1-2 days).
Step 10c Dinosaur Diorama craft To make a grassy ground, paint on splotches of green over the papier mache.
Step 11 Dinosaur Diorama craft 11.

Make some dinosaurs

Draw your own dinosaurs or print out these dinosaur sets: Color and cut out each dinosaur.
Step 11a Dinosaur Diorama craft 12.

Position the dinosaurs

Adding tabs will allow you to attach the paper dinosaur to your box diorama.

a.) Center tabs - Fold a short strip of cardstock on both ends. Center tabs let you attach an item onto the background.
Step 12b Dinosaur Diorama craft   b.) Bottom tabs - Fold a strip of thick cardstock (use a color that will blend in with the ground) into an L-shape. Glue one or a pair of these onto the dinosaur's legs. Glue the bottom part of the tab onto the ground.
Step 12c Dinosaur Diorama craft   You can also glue the dinosaur onto other items in the diorama to make it more stable. Besides having L-shaped bottom tabs, this Stegosaurus' behind is glued onto the tree trunk.
Step 12d Dinosaur Diorama craft   This Parasaurolophus balances better because aside from having bottom tabs, its tail is lodged into a small slit on the edge of the box lid.
Step 12 Dinosaur Diorama craft 13. After positioning all the animals, you can now sit back and enjoy your incredible prehistoric diorama.

More Ideas

Dinosaur Diorama craft In this Triassic-inspired diorama, we used more three-dimensional items such as dinosaur plastic toys, real rocks, and paper trees. We've also used brown-colored salt dough instead of paper mache to make the arid-looking ground.

Check out more diorama ideas in our exciting collection of Diorama Crafts.

Comments