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How to Make an African Grassland Model Habitat

Re-create a mini landscape with props and paint.

The African grassland is a tropical habitat made up of primarily tall grasses and sparse small, fire- and drought-resistant trees. The African grassland is occupied by many different animals from zebras to elephants to cheetahs, lions and hyenas. The grasslands are a delicate balance and ecosystem that exists nowhere else in the world. A model of the grasslands is a great science project, teaching tool or model craft project for a child or an adult. Buy miniature trees at any large craft store and embellish the diorama with miniature animals.

Lay the shoe box on one of its length sides, the open end facing you. Discard the top of the shoe box.

Use the pencil to draw jagged hills on the length of the far end of the box, from edge to edge, extending from the bottom edge to 1/3 of the way up the back side of the box.

Paint the hills with a dark blue-gray color by first mixing blue paint with gray paint. Dip the brush into the mixed paint and fill in the hills completely. The cardboard of the shoe box should not show through the paint. Use crisp brush strokes, following your penciled line.

Paint the sky above the hills on the back wall, the ceiling and the two sides of the shoe box. Use a light blue paint or mix white with the blue to create a sky color. Fill in the color completely, covering the cardboard of the shoe box. Don't paint over the hills; paint around them with crisp strokes.

Dip your paint brush in white paint and dab it all along the ceiling of the box. It will mix with the wet blue paint, creating clouds.

Cut the moss to match the dimension of the bottom of the box. Cut an irregular circle measuring 3 inches in diameter out of the back left corner of the moss.

Cut the blue vinyl piece to be a circle 1 inch all around larger than the hole in the moss.

Lay the vinyl underneath the hole in the moss, creating a pond.

Lay the moss and vinyl on the bottom of the shoe box and secure them in place with 10 dabs of glue, evenly spaced along the floor of the shoe box.

Place the animals in the model. Place the elephant in the back left corner of the model, near the pond. Place the zebra in front of the pond. Place the cheetah in the front right corner of the model, facing the zebra. Place the crane on the edge of the pond.

Place two trees in the model, about 1 inch apart in the front right corner. The cheetah should be underneath one of the trees.

About the Author

Heather Berkowe is a fashion designer with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion design. She has more than five years of experience in the fashion industry, including design work for lingerie brands and owning the inner-wear company Soussuits. Berkowe has been writing since 1997, with work appearing in the "Journal News" and Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibitions.