‘Mom, I’m bored!’ your pre-schooler complains, tired of her toys and books. In this case, put her in front of ‘the box.’ No, not the television, but this fun (and cheap!) craft project: a shoebox diorama.
You probably already have all the materials for the diorama right in your home. Aside from the shoebox, you need a thin plastic (the type used for wrapping books, or cling wrap will do in a pinch), paint, scissors, pencil, ruler and string. Now, what’s next? Try any of these ideas.
1. Summer garden
Paint the shoebox a bright shade of blue, just like the summer sky. Stick cotton clouds and different shades of green bushes. Add a green floor. You can also paint smaller soap or medicine boxes to make a little house. Cut out flowers and flower pots from art paper. Then make an assortment of bug friends: ladybug, snail, butterfly (suspend from the top of the diorama)and a caterpillar made from clay.
2. Little Aquarium
Paint an ocean floor scene with blue and light brown paint. Let it dry. Then make ‘plants’, painting some on the shoebox, and cutting others and pasting on the ‘sand.’ (This makes the diorama scene more three-dimensional.)
Cut out fish from paper. You can use plain cartolina (or any thick cardstock) and color with crayons and paint. But, for added texture or pattern, you can use corrugated cardboard, scrapbook paper, felt, or foil paper.
Thread the string through a needle, knot the end, and then run through the fish. Pierce the needle through the top of the cardboard, and then knot. The fish dangles on the string, and look like they’re swimming in their shoebox ocean.
Cover the front of the shoebox with thin plastic to mimic the look of water.
3. Mini Jurassic Park
This is perfect for little boys who have an assortment of plastic dinosaurs! Paint a prehistoric landscape using brown, green and blue paint To make three-dimensional volcanoes, crumple newspaper and then paint brown or a dark gray (you may want to add red streaks for lava). Collect small pebbles and rocks and glue to the diorama floor.
4. Space race
Paint the diorama black. Then, use glitter, neon paint or glow-in-the-dark paint to make stars. Draw, paint and cut out a comet and attach to string or tabs. Cut slots on the back and top of the shoebox. Voila, your child can make the comet move with one flick of the wrist!
Your child can also draw, paint and cut out planets, or (for more dimension) paint small Styrofoam balls.
5. In my Habitat
Scour through your child’s coloring book collection to look for pictures of animals from the same habitat. Cut them out and paste them on a thick cardboard. Then, decoeate the shoebox to reflect the animal’s natural environment. For example, make a winter wonderland for polar bear and penguins (you can use small Styrofoam balls or cotton to mimic snow) or a jungle paradise for monkeys and tropical birds (green crepe paper perfectly mimics the texture of leaves).
What a great way to learn!
Now, wasn’t that shoe—we mean so—fun and easy? And here’s another reason for both of you to smile. Making that diorama developed very important preschooler skills: dexterity and fine motor skills, following steps / instructions, creativity and imagination, and even the importance of recycling. Plus, your child has a beautiful art work to proudly display and say, ‘I did this!’