Monday, 12 August 2019

Create a Nest or Habitat Diorama - craft for kids

Create A Diorama
Your challenge is to create a diorama of a habitat which includes clues about the animal that lives there. Keep your animal secret and then get your family and friends or classmates to guess Whose Home is This?
Diorama of a kea habitat
First here are some ideas about using clues to guess an animal that lives in a particular habitat, from my book Whose Home is This?

In 'Whose Home is This?' you guess which animal lives in the home that's pictured, such as this hanging nest:
Picture of a hanging nest in "Whose Home is This?"
Maybe you recognise the shape of the nest or the setting or something else gives you a clue. Turning the page you find the answer.
Answer page in "Whose Home is This?"
showing the grey warbler/riroriro in the nest

One of the clues is the hanging shape of this nest which in New Zealand is unique to the grey warbler /riroriro. The bush setting might also help you narrow down which bird to a short-list of forest birds. 

Other nests or homes can be more easily guessed by their surroundings, such as this nest in the snow. The kea is one of very few birds that live in the mountains, and the feather colour and pattern might also give you a clue.

The kea nest from "Whose Home is This?'
note the clues of eggs, feather and snow 
How to Create Your Diorama

A diorama is a three-dimensional display with a background picture showing what is in the distance and objects or images in the foreground.

You will need some of the following:
  • a cut-down box from the supermarket, or a shoebox, or even a shoebox lid
  • pictures of habitats from calendars or magazines or your own illustrations
  • craft knife or scissors; glue, Blu-tack or tape
  • natural items such as rocks, moss, shells, sticks, feathers 
  • modelling clay
  • toy animals or pictures of animals

Calendar and magazine pictures
Shells and stones

1. Find facts about your chosen animal.

  • Where does it live? 
  • Does it hide? 
  • Does it make a nest or den? 
  • What materials would it use? 

Now gather together pictures and materials to create your scene. Think about what clues you want to use. Is there a way that your animal could be hiding in the scene for you to reveal later?
Pictures, toys, animal magnets

2. Cut your box to the shape you want, you could open up the top and the front - some boxes from the supermarket come already cut like this - which is good for a landscape scene. 
If you want to do an ocean or river scene leave the top on the box so that you can hang fish inside - you could cut holes in the top and sides to let some light in.
This box came already cut like this from the supermarket
Choose (or create) a large image about A4 size or larger to go at the back of your diorama, this might be a forest, wetland, mountains, reef depending where your animal lives. 

3. Find other images that suit the habitat, such as clumps of tussock grass, seaweed or small trees and prepare them so you can stick these in place so that they stand up in front of the background image. (You might want to wait until you have composed the whole scene before you stick them down.)
Cut out the image leaving a strip at the lower edge
you can fold this over to help stick the image in place
4. Put other materials such as small rocks, shells, moss in place. If you are using natural materials make sure they are dry and clean, if you can't dry them - for example moss is likely to be damp - put a bit of plastic underneath so the box doesn't go soggy. Consider sticking the items down if you are going to move the box later.
Paper images secured in place surrounded by real stones
5. Now find a way to hide your animal in the scene, or leave a space to add it in later to reveal the answer.

The final diorama of a kea habitat
Extra for experts
You could use your diorama to make a movie, try different effects - pan the scene or zoom in, add a sound track of nature sounds, and then reveal the animal at the end of your movie.

Related blog posts
Discovering Birds' Nests 

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