Homemade, Recycle Bin Shoe Box Dioramas, Miniatures, Props with Free Printables

Does this scene sound familiar in your home? It's 8 pm and darling daughter is wailing. She forgot to make her school shoebox diorama project due TOMORROW! Been there done that. I wanted to say "tough luck. Take the F" (which she deserved). But being a forgetful, eleventh-hour girl myself, I confess, I empathized. So I bailed her out. The whole family helped. We made an awesome woodland Native American shoebox diorama with recycled trash and household stuff. 

For homemade shoe box dioramas for any content area, all you need is a recycle bin, craft scraps, household junk and a little ingenuity. Here are free printable dollhouse miniatures and free printable habitat diorama backgrounds. I've included free printable scale model building patterns too. 

* Backdrop. Stand shoe box upright inside box lid. Get little-miss-last-minute busy drawing background inside lid (or on plain paper to attach to lid. Our shoebox diorama required an eastern woodland background. For a science habitat diorama, draw a nature scene. For English literature, create a scene from book. One son made a baseball field for a shoebox diorama from "The Chosen." Glue on cotton balls for clouds. Tape tinsel to box top for rain. 

* Buildings. Make 3-D house from smaller box. For 3-D yard or city scene, cut boxes and attach small portions to sides. Make a row of different sizes boxes for city. Cut doors to open. Decorate as house, church, store, office building, school. We made a longhouse from a butter tub. For a tipi, use a paper cone or cup.

* Furniture.  Use dollhouse furniture. Cover small boxes with fabric, wallpaper or wrapping paper for couch, table, bed or chairs. Cut chairs from cardboard. 

* Figures. Use action figures, dolls, Fisher Price or Lego people or Polly Pockets. Or draw face on round-head peg clothespin, pencil or toilet paper tube. Bend pipe cleaners or twist ties into dolls. Add wooden bead for head or paper face. Stuff a glove. Tie with yarn to make arms from outer fingers, legs from middle, head from thumb. Wrap dolls in scrap fabric or colored paper for clothes. Tie. Glue yarn, twine, plastic or paper scraps for hair. 

* Props. Use game pieces, toy sets, doll and action figure accessories, building sets, miniatures. Postage stamps and stickers make rugs, pictures, decorations. Roll paper strip and tie with yarn for scroll or diploma. Tiny yarn balls, beads and marbles make fruit, balls, rocks, cannon balls. Lids, pill bottle covers and tube caps make glasses and dishes. Thimbles and spools are buckets, hay bales, workshop accessories. For our native American shoebox diorama fire, we used broken pencils as logs and orange and red clear plastic for fire. Cut props from cardboard. Staple fabric scraps for curtains, blankets, doors. 

* Landscape. Use small branches for trees. Draw a"garden" on brown fabric or use striped material. Cover little boxes and pill bottles with fabric, grey for rocks and brown for hills, blue for water. Make paper trees and plants from paper tubes or straws. Use plastic toy animals for farm or nature scenes. 

* Military. Use vehicles, weapons and equipment from toy soldiers or GI Joe sets. Make bandages from brown grocery bags colored red (I used this in my Crimean War diorama from "Lady of the Lamp" in 6th grade). Drape material over tripod of sticks for tent. 

Make shoebox dioramas for literature, science, history or social studies crafts. 

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