How to Make a Shoebox Diorama of the Boston Tea Party

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The Boston Tea Party is one of the most important moments in the history of the United States. It represented one of the first significant rebellions against British rule and a desire to build a new, free nation. Teaching children about the tea party can be difficult without a visual aid--so, build an informative shoebox diorama.

Things You'll Need

  • Large, deep shoe box
  • Cardboard
  • Construction paper
  • 2 chopsticks
  • String
  • Small boxes
  • Markers
  • White glue

Obtain a large, deep shoe box. The Boston Tea Party was a big event with lots of action occurring throughout the harbor. The larger the shoebox, the greater the detail and drama of your diorama.

Plan your diorama by drawing a rough sketch. Obtain one of the many lithographs or drawings of the tea party (see Resources). Include some portion of a ship, a pier, boxes floating in the water, and several people cheering from the shore or throwing boxes into the water. Make large, dramatic elements such as the pier and the ship three-dimensional, while all other details can be drawn.

Draw and color the scenery inside the box. Use the back lower edge of the box as the water line. Draw a horizon line with small hills above this about half way up the bottom of the shoebox. Draw some wave lines in the water and any buildings. The tea party was conducted in the evening and at night, so color the sky accordingly.

Build the stern of the ship by gluing three piece of cardboard together in a pyramid-like shape. Glue a wooden chopstick to the top of the pyramid to represent the mainsail mast. Run a second chop stick through the center of the pyramid to represent the main mast.

Turn the pyramid on its side so that it faces out from the diorama at an angle and protrudes out of the box. Attach some string between both masts to give the impression of rope. Glue the pyramid in place.

Build the dock by gluing a simple rectangular box on one side of the diorama. Cut out and color several two-dimensional figurines with their arms raised in defiance and glue them to the dock.

Cut out several more outlines of figures, with Indian headdresses, with large boxes held over their heads. Attach these figures to the deck of the ship. Glue a number of small boxes (such as cardboard jewelry boxes) to the floor of the diorama (in the water).

Tips & Warnings

  • For a great visual joke, replace the boxes in the water with real tea bags.

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