How to Make a Diorama for a Book Report

A student's book report can jump off of the printed page and launch into creativity using a 3-D diorama activity. Young students who aren't ready to write out full-length reports can use this model-making project to tell the story they've just read, while older kids can add to an existing written paper by making a visual aid. A diorama can help students think about and better understand literacy concepts such as character and setting, while developing creativity and building spatial awareness skills.

Take the lid off a shoe box. Turn the box on one of its long sides with the opening facing toward the student.

Pick a scene or theme from the book to depict. The student can model a specific scene or go with a general overview of the book. For example, he can construct his favorite scene from the "Harry Potter" series or go with the general interior of Hogwarts.

Draw the scenery for the story on the background using pencils or markers to create a landscape if the book or scene takes place outside or draw an interior. For example, if the student is creating an outdoor setting, she can draw a horizon line hallway up from the bottom of the box, separating the sky and mountains below. Draw on all three sides and the bottom of the box. The bottom may include waterways, grass or rocks if the setting is outdoors, or a rug, a wooden floor or tiling if it's inside.

Paint the background in using temperas and a brush.

Create pop-up or stand-up pieces for the diorama. Draw characters from the story or scenery onto card stock paper. Cut these out, leaving a quarter-inch tab at the bottom. Fold the tab under and glue it to the floor of the box.

Sculpt stones, hillsides or parts of buildings from the book using modeling clay. For example, roll a ball of brown clay into a baseball size. Press the clay against a back corner of the shoe box and mold it downwards into a mountain.

  • Only use non-toxic age-graded materials. Read the labels to ensure that the crafting items are appropriate or the student's age.
  • Create more than one diorama to tell a sequence of events. Have the student make three models for the beginning, middle and end of the story.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.