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Crafts | Make an Ocean Diorama

Crafts | Make an Ocean Diorama
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Summer vacations mean bare feet, the smell of sunscreen, catching fireflies at night, and watermelon seed fights. For me and my son, it also means camping at a place near and dear to our hearts—Hermit Island, Maine. And at the end of it all, it requires a special summer vacation memento like an ocean diorama to remind us of our time spent there.

We tend to be early risers at Hermit Island. When the sun comes up we trek out to our favorite beach for a picnic breakfast. We make every effort to wake up while we watch the fishing and lobster boats weave their way past the island. Afterwards, if it’s low tide, we head out to Sand Dollar Beach to look for hermit crabs and sand dollars. After lunch we continue our search for crabs in the tidal pools and spend long lazy hours with our toes buried in the sand, watching the waves. At night time it’s a bit magical to look around the perimeter of the island and see small glowing fires and candle-lit lanterns speckled across the landscape.

I wanted to collect shells and rocks for my ocean diorama, but I wasn’t sure about Hermit Island’s rules (if any) on whether people could remove natural items. Therefore, I didn’t keep any items we found. Any rocks, shells and other treasures we found were photographed, then left where we found them. This made making my ocean diorama a bit more challenging, but not impossible. I had a few beach rocks and shells from home that I used, and then supplemented with stickers and paper.

Make an ocean diorama to remember summer.
Photo/Art by Bonnie Thomas
Make an ocean diorama to remember summer.

Materials to Make an Ocean Diorama

  • Paper mache or thick cardboard box
  • Decorative paper
  • Paint
  • Miniature canvas frames (I purchased mine at AC Moore)
  • Themed stickers or ephemera
  • Collected items from your vacation
  • Glue

Directions to Make an Ocean Diorama

  • Paint your box a base color of your choice. I chose white.
  • Cut and glue decorative paper around the edges or border of your box
  • I flip my canvas frames around to use them like miniature shadowboxes. I do not use the flat side-I use the framed side. Paint the canvas frame and canvas as you would like.
  • Find a memento from your trip to put in the frame/s. You can also use the frames to add titles to your diorama.
  • Glue the miniature canvas frames into your box.
  • Add stickers, collected items from your vacation and any other mementos you would like. Arrange them first and then glue into place.

When the long New England winter comes around, it will be refreshing to look at this diorama and remember our summer adventures at Hermit Island.

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Bonnie Thomas


Bonnie Thomas


Bonnie Thomas shares her ideas and instructions for simple Yankee crafts. Bonnie Thomas works full time as a child and family therapist in Southern Maine and is also an established artist and author. She has published two books via Jessica Kingsley Publishing, titled Creative Coping Skills for Children: Emotional Support Through Arts and Crafts Activities and Creative Expression Activities for Teens: Exploring Identity Through Art, Craft and Journaling. Don't miss her latest book, How to Get Kids Offline, Outdoors, and Connecting With Nature
Updated Monday, July 2nd, 2012
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