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Activity Two:
Environmental Dioramas

Lesson Objective:

The students will design a diorama that shows the best places to form streams, put trees, and make roads.


The students will be paired into groups so lower level students can work with high level student while using personal experiences, team skills and communication skills.


The students will use a computer to research the best way to construct their diagram.


1 unassembled diagram kit for each group.

a) you can purchase Road Trip diorama kits directly from us

b) you can use our materials sheet to do a student scavenger hunt to create a no-cost diorama kit

c) you can contact us a to apply for grant for a free diorama kit


This activity is designed to engage students for up to an hour each day for a week. The following is a recommended break down of the phases of this project. These recommendations are based on groups of around 6 students, but can be modified as needed.

Day 1:

Two students create the plaster rocks and attach the "grass" sheet to the plains project base.

Two students wad up the newspaper and create the contours for the mountain/hill project base.

Two students build the hard-shell of plaster cloth over the newspaper wads on the mountain project base.

Day 2:

All students within the group discuss and decide, based on the structure of their diorama, where their stream will want to flow.

Two students paint the earth undercoat and the water undercoat where the river location was decided on (for the mountain/hill project base).

Two students attach and paint the rocks and then paint the talus.

Two students make the deciduous trees and remove the "grass" on the plains where the stream will flow.

Day 3:

Two of the students add the sprinkle grasses over entire terrain and then create water falls on the release paper.

Two students apply the realistic water to the stream location (after sprinkle grass has been applied and excess dusted off of the water locations).

Two students add shrubs (both fibrous and clump), attach wild grass and trees.

Day 4:

(a lighter day)

Two students attach the waterfalls.

Two students add any water effects desired to the river.

Two students add the painted talus as desired throughout entire diorama.

Day 5:

(The team collaborates to decide where the location of the animal trail will be.)

Two students add the sprinkle flowers and any other sprinkle finish. They also attach the wood piece(s) as a water bridge in the location the team agreed upon.

Two students cut out and attach sandpaper trail where the team decided it should go.

Two students attach the animals at various (and realistic) locations along the trail (actually attach to the trail).

The students will require assistance attaching the two project bases together to create one master ecosystem.

At this point, each group (team) presents their dioramas to the rest of the class, explaining choices for water, plants, trail and animals.

Optional homework assignment:

Students sketch, on paper with colored pencils, a trail or path that they use everyday. It can be the way they walk (or parents drive) to school, or the route they follow once they enter the school building, or even the path they follow when they walk their dog. Students are instructed to discuss common family and personal paths and routes with their parents learning the logic or habits behind decisions.


Graded by a Rubric. (see below.)

Subject Area / Grade Level:

US History 4th or 5th grade,

Science with Art activity,

Colorado Standards.

Standard 3:

Students know and apply visual arts materials, tools, techniques, and processes.

Life Science:

Students know and understand the characteristics and structure of living things,

the processes of life,

and how living things interact

with each other and their environment.

Standard 5:

Students understand that the nature of

science involves a particular way of building knowledge and making meaning

of the natural world.

Benchmark Visual Arts:

Grades 5-8

As students in these grades

extend their knowledge,

what they know and are able to do includes identifying and experimenting with materials, tools, techniques, and processes; selecting and using materials, tools, techniques, and processes that enhance communication of ideas through art; and evaluating the selection and use of materials, tools, techniques, and processes.

4 Points

3 Points

2 Points 1 Point
Knowledge Gained

Student can accurately answer all questions related to facts in the diorama and processes used to create the diorama.

Student can accurately answer most questions related to facts in the diorama and processes used to create the diorama.

Student can accurately answer about 75% of questions related to facts in the diorama and processes used to create the diorama.

Student appears to have insufficient knowledge about the facts or processes used in the diorama.

Attractiveness The diorama is exceptionally attractive in terms of design, layout, and neatness.

The diorama is attractive in terms of design, layout and neatness.

The diorama is acceptably attractive though it may be a bit messy.

The diorama is distractingly messy or very poorly designed. It is not attractive.

Working Together

Students worked well together and completed their own parts.

Students worked together but did not complete their own parts.

Students did their own part but did not work well together.

Students did not

work together.

Used Sources Students used greater than four sources. Students used less than three sources. Students used less than two sources. Students used one source.