|Have fun learning all about dinosaurs by constructing your own prehistoric shoebox diorama.||
Prepare the boxThere 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.
Plan the details for your dioramaThink 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.
Paint the boxPaint 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.
Add background detailsYou can either paint or glue on details onto the walls of the box. We've created clouds by gluing on wisps of cotton.
Create rocksTo 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.
|Glue the rocks onto the background.|
|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.|
Make treesDraw 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.
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.
|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.
|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.|
Add a body of waterMake 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.
Build the groundFor 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.
|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.
Make ferns and plantsUse 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.
|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.|
Finish the groundCut 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.
|Continue until you've covered the entire ground. Allow the ground to dry (takes about 1-2 days).|
|To make a grassy ground, paint on splotches of green over the papier mache.|
Make some dinosaursDraw your own dinosaurs or print out these dinosaur sets:
Position the dinosaursAdding 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.
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|13.||After positioning all the animals, you can now sit back and enjoy your incredible prehistoric diorama.|
|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.