Coral Reef Habitat Diorama

Learn all about coral reefs and ocean life in this fun coral reef habitat diorama craft.

View more habitat diorama projects: African Savanna Diorama, Polar Diorama, Rainforest Diorama, All Diorama Crafts
Coral Reef Habitat Diorama craft


  • Shoebox or similar-sized box
  • Printable card stock or construction paper
  • Crayons or colored pencils
  • Acrylic paint
  • White glue
  • Scissors
  • Paint brush
  • Pencil
  • Sand
  • Sea shells (optional)
  • Paper bowl or egg carton (optional)

Safety Tips

  • Watch out for this sign Ask for an adult's help.. It means adult help is needed for the particular step.


Step 1a Coral Reef Habitat Diorama 1.

Prepare the box

Most box dioramas would be standing on its wider panel. In this tutorial, we wanted to show that a vertical box orientation can be used to emphasize depth, which is a great concept for an ocean-themed scene.

Start off by painting the inside of the box with blue acrylic paint or covering it with blue-colored paper. You can also paint the outside of the box if you like.
Step 1b Coral Reef Habitat Diorama Ask for an adult's help. If you're using a box other than a shoebox, cut out the front panel. Use tape or glue gun to fix any open flaps in place.
Step 2 Coral Reef Habitat Diorama 2.

Make the animals

Draw different kinds of sea animals, including corals and bottom dwellers (e.g. starfish, crabs, clams, etc.) on white construction paper. You can also print out these sea creatures, fish shapes, and corals on card stock.

Color and cut out the animals.
Step 3a Coral Reef Habitat Diorama 3.

Create paper tabs

Make side, bottom, or center tabs for your sea creatures. These will allow the animals to be attached to the bottom and/or sides of your box. There are a number of ways to make the tabs:

a.) Make an L-shaped paper tab and glue this at the back of the animal's body. Position the tab at the bottom portion of the animal (bottom tab) or at the sides (side tab).
Step 3b Coral Reef Habitat Diorama b.) Draw side and/or bottom tabs before cutting out your animals in Step 2.
Step 3c Coral Reef Habitat Diorama c.) Fold a rectangular piece of paper on both ends to create a center tab. This tab allows you to attach a paper animal to the background.
Step 4 Coral Reef Habitat Diorama 4.

Add backrgound details

Glue some animals and corals onto the background. These pieces obviously do not need any tabs.

Paint more animals and other details onto the background if you like.
Step 5 Coral Reef Habitat Diorama 5.

Add ground details

You may add other pieces on the ground besides the paper cut-outs. For instance, this paper bowl section (bowl cut into quarters) can be used as a rock where one of the animals can be positioned. Besides paper bowls, egg carton sections or small boxes can be cut and painted to create rocks or small caves.
Step 6a Coral Reef Habitat Diorama 6.

Position the animals

Animals without tabs can be positioned onto objects on the ground. The paper bowl we glued on in Step 5 is perfect for the octopus to rest on.
Step 6b Coral Reef Habitat Diorama   Position the rest of the animals inside your diorama. The creatures on the ground all have bottom tabs. Glue the tabs in place.
Step 6c Coral Reef Habitat Diorama   These swimming fishes have side tabs for gluing onto the sides of the box. Fishes with center tabs can be glued onto the background.

Another option for creating swimming animals is to hang them from the box's ceiling with strings.
Step 6d Coral Reef Habitat Diorama   You can also create a fish hiding among corals by creating a slit each on the bottom edge of the fish and on the top edge of a coral. Interlock the slits to position the fish in place.
Step 7 Coral Reef Habitat Diorama 7.

Add sand

Once all the animals are in place, apply glue on the entire bottom surface of the box. Spoon on some sand over the glue to create a sandy ocean bottom.

Position the paper starfish on the sand. Add real seashells if you have some.
Coral Reef Habitat Diorama 8.

More Ideas

Enjoy your terrific Coral Reef Habitat Diorama"!

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