Document Type

Activities and Labs


Indians of North America--Study and teaching (Elementary);


Hands-on projects such as creating a three-dimensional diorama are among the most memorable of positive elementary school experiences, yet they are generally uncommon because these complex projects are daunting to undertake. Therefore, it is important to prepare preservice teachers with the skills to lead children in creating these types of projects. This document is a compilation of preservice teacher work completed during a social studies methods class that assists instructors in teaching students to create unique dioramas. After the preservice teachers had constructed dioramas and assisted elementary students in making their own, they reflected on previous social studies projects from their childhoods and considered the learning outcomes of the current project. Eighty preservice teachers enrolled in a social studies methods course participated in the study. These college students created their own Native American dioramas along with images for furnishing and finishing dioramas of the Native American group on which they focused. The five Native American groups explored through dioramas include the Iroquois of the northeastern United States, the Seminole of the Southeast, the Lakota of the Central Plains, Hopi (and Navajo) of the American Southwest and the Haida of the Northwest Coast. This document provides photoillustrated examples and steps of how to create an intricate diorama from a cereal box, recycled copy paper, white craft glue, paints, images, and common craft items. The cereal box base is cut to open like a book and a model of a Native American home made of recycled cardboard is affixed over a cut-out hole in the cover so that the box opens to reveal the interior of the home. All surfaces are covered with a layer of torn recycled copy paper that is securely glued, coated with white gesso base paint, and then decorated with acrylic craft paints. In the facing inside enclosure, a ceremony scene is displayed. The back of the cereal box features crafts of the Native American group, while the other cereal box exterior sides show foods, clothing, and other cultural Reflection data indicate that preservice teachers recognized the large amount of time and patience necessary to complete a quality diorama and the valuable amount of in-depth learning that results, including a deeper respect for Native American people and greater confidence in teaching these concepts. Therefore, we recommend diorama projects in teaching about diverse cultures (2 tables, 5 figures, 2 photo-illustrated appendices).


Department of Curriculum and Instruction


Department of Mathematics

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