Create a Shoebox Habitat

What You Need:

  • Old shoebox
  • Multi-colored construction paper
  • Clay in various colors
  • Assorted household craft supplies (sand, leaves, cotton balls, etc. depending on your chosen environment)
  • White card stock
  • Optional: small animal toys

What You Do:

  1. Before your start constructing your habitat, ask your child about different kinds of habitats he has learned about in class. You might ask about the weather, types of animals and plants in the habitat, or what you might find there. The kinds of habitats you can discuss might include the forest, ocean, desert, grassland, and arctic habitats.
  2. Get your child to choose his favorite kind of habitat. Write down the things that you might find in that habitat. Make sure to explore the scenery–icebergs, trees, mountains, etc.–, the plants, and the animals that might live in that kind of habitat. When you're done brainstorming, make a quick sketch of what the habitat might look like to use as a guide while building your diorama.
  3. Take a piece of white paper, and cut it so that is the same size as the bottom of the shoebox. Have your child draw and color the background scenery for his diorama on this paper. He can cut different pieces of paper to fit the ground, sky, and sides of his diorama too!
  4. Help your child glue the scenery into the inside of the shoebox.
  5. Now, it's time to add in some 3D elements! Create the ground of your habitat. Grassland habitats can be created with decorative Easter grass, arctic habitats can benefit from white paper and cotton balls, dessert habitats can be enhanced with some glue and sand, and ocean habitats can look more convincing with blue cellophane.
  6. Add some objects to make your habitat more detailed. Get creative when turning the objects from your brainstorm into physical objects for the diorama. For example, in a grassland or desert habitat, you could create a watering hole out of blue cellophane or a painted circular food container. Other ideas: make icebergs for an arctic habitat out of egg cartons, or trees for many different habitats out of clay and green-painted cotton balls.
  7. Finally, add animals to the habitat. You can either use toy animals you already own or create your own animals out of clay or drawings on stiff paper. If your animal is made of paper, make sure to create a base out of cardboard or stiff paper to help it stand up.
  8. Have your child make up stories and scenes within the habitat. This is a great reusable DIY toy–just pop the lid back on the box and put it away until next time!

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