How to Make an American Revolutionary War Diorama

By Alexis Writing ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Large shoe box
  • Clay and paint for soldier figures and weapons
  • Paint brushes
  • Clay, wood, or other material to create boat
  • Toothpicks, cloth or cardstock and paint for the American flag
  • Paint for water and surfaces
  • A picture of Washington crossing the Delaware River
  • Glue
  • Cloth for clothing (optional)

Hands-on crafts can help children become more engaged in the learning process and better visualize the topic about which they are studying. A diorama is a great way to extend learning about the American Revolutionary War, particularly one that depicts George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River.

Paint the inside of the box. The sides and back should depict the color of the sky, while the bottom should look like water. This initial painting can be rudimentary as details can be added later, after the figures are all placed. You can also paint the outside of the box. You may choose to paint the outside a plain, dark color or to add details such as the American flag or other symbols of the American Revolutionary War. Allow the shoe box time to dry in a cool, dry area for at least 24 hours.

Make the figurines while the box is drying. If you are short on time, or for younger students, you can purchase figurines and paint or decorate them as necessary. Older students can use clay and toothpicks to create the figures. Use the picture as a guide for body part placement and necessary details. You can also create weaponry using the clay and paint.

Paint the clay figurines. If you prefer, you can use cloth to make the clothes, and glue it to the figurines. This will take more time, of course, but will create an even more lifelike depiction of the event.

Make the boat. You can use simple card stock in the color of wood, or paint it once you have shaped it into a boat. You could use small wooden pieces to create a boat as well. Older students with an interest or skill in whittling could use a bar of soap and paring knife to whittle a boat, then paint it when it is complete.

Create the American flag using a toothpick and card stock ,and decorate it appropriately. You can also use a purchased American flag replica. If you choose, you can also create the American flag from clay, the way you made your figurines.

Assemble the diorama by choosing the placement of the boat first. Glue the boat into place. Then place the individual figurines in the boat, gluing each one to the boat so they are all stable. Place the American flag in the appropriate place, and glue it as well. Add final paint details to the water and sky. Allow the entire diorama to dry, and it will be complete and ready to be shared.

About the Author

Alexis Writing has many years of freelance writing experience. She has written for a variety of online destinations, including Peternity.com. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Rochester.