DLTK's Educational Activities
© by Leanne Guenther
Tasha's daycare made this craft one day in spring. They seemed to
have a good time and Tasha came home talking about the habitats of a variety
of different animals. I was actually quite impressed with how much they
had learned while working on these crafts. I'll start out with
instructions for the habitat Tasha made and then give some thoughts at the end
on different habitats you might make. (Keep in mind, there's no template
to print out with this project). I've tried to give lots of alternatives
in the materials. Basically you need a shoebox. The rest is
optional and subject to your own imagination and what you happen to have
If you're studying an ocean habitat, you might prefer the porthole paper plate craft.
- Shoe box with lid.
- Blue paint (and other colors if you like)
- Cellophane, cling wrap or wax paper
Sand (you can substitute dirt from your yard if you don't have sand. Just
make sure it's dry). Whole wheat flour works too.
peer through the hole to see your habitat
It looks better in real life, but this gives
an idea of what it is like to look through the hole
- Pinecones or small toy trees (must fit inside the closed shoe box)
- Bits of dried plant material (dried moss, dried flowers, dried leaves,
etc) or bits of ripped up green and brown tissue paper or crepe paper.
- Rocks or pebbles.
- Small toy animals that you would find in a forest (bears, deer or
dinosaurs... dinosaurs seemed to fit anywhere in the kids' minds).
- This is tough to explain in words, so bear with me. Place the shoe box on
the table normally (like you were going to put shoes inside it). It has a
bottom (where we'll be making our habitat), 2 long sides and 2 short sides.
In the center of one of the short sides, you are going to put a peep hole a
bit bigger than a quarter. We'll use this hole on the finished craft to peek
through to view the habitat (it's a neat effect... tricks the eye into
thinking everything's big). Cut the hole on one of the short sides using a
pair of scissors or a cardboard cutter. This part will require adult
assistance. We actually had a shoe box with a hole already in it so we didn't
have to cut one.
- Paint the inside of the shoe box blue (including the inside of the shoe
take the lid and cut a square out of it. Leave enough of the lid intact
so that it's structurally sound. This hole will be the sky and will let
light in the top so we can see things when we peek in the hole. Again
this will likely require a bit of help from a grownup
Glue or tape cellophane, cling wrap or wax paper onto the shoe box lid to cover the hole you just
made. (The cellophane is transparent so will let light through). If you use a tinted cellophane then the habitat will take on that tinge when you look through into it.
- Now comes the fun part! Let's make our habitat:
- Glue sand or dirt to the bottom of the box. (We actually covered our
bottom with dried mosses instead of dirt)
- Glue the pinecones or plastic trees to the bottom of the box as your
- Glue rocks or pebbles to the bottom of the box.
- Glue crepe paper, tissue paper, dried plant material, etc. into the box
to make bushes and plant life.
- Glue your animals into the bottom of the box. Put them nearer the peep
hole with the vegetation and trees in the background so when you look
through you see the animals.
- You can use plasticine (playdough) to help attach some of the toy
figures to the bottom of the box.
- Let everything dry, then put the lid back on (you might want to tape it
so it stays attached)
- Option: Rather than simply painting the inside of the box blue, older
children might like to paint the bottom green and the sides blue. Once dry,
they can paint trees, shrubs, volcanos or mountains onto the sides (it's a
bit tough because they're painting on the inside of the box, but it does
- Kids can also glue a few pieces of cotton ball onto the sides or top to
make clouds in the sky. They can put on the lid and peek through the hole as
they go to see how it looks.
- Note: We just covered the entire bottom of the box with glue and
then arranged everything. We left it overnight to dry. This was enough
to hold things alright (although they will come lose if you toss it
around). Another idea is to leave the materials lose so the kids can
rearrange their creation during playtime.
OTHER HABITATS (Again, I've just given thoughts... use what you have on
hand... this is a great project for exercising creativity... go on a nature
walk, collect items and then make a habitat box!):
- BIRDS IN THE SKY:
- Paint inside of the box sky blue
- Cover the bottom of the box with cotton balls so it looks like clouds
- Attach toy birds to pieces of thread or fishing line and hang them
from the shoe box lid.
- FISH IN THE OCEAN:
- Paint the inside of the box sea blue or sea green
- It's nice to cover this one with a green or blue tinted cellophane if
you have it.
- Glue sand or rocks to the bottom
- Glue aquarium plants into it. Strips of blue/green crepe/tissue paper
make nice looking kelp. You can use spray starch if you want them to stand
up a bit better.
- Put sea shells, lobsters or other ground fish on the bottom.
- Attach toy fish to pieces of thread of fishing line and hang them from
the shoe box lid so it looks like they're swimming.
Printable version of these instructions