Activity Introduction

How good is your David Attenborough impression? Create mini ecosystems in a shoebox with natural materials from around your home, and perhaps you can practise narrating nature and start on the path to becoming a world-famous ecologist.

This is a good activity for kids to complete independently.

Ideal for: Upper Primary Ages 10 – 12

Themes:

  • investigate
  • fresh air
  • be creative

Time required: 40 minutes 

Curriculum connections: Science, Critical and Creative Thinking

Tips for Parents and Carers

This can be a messy craft session and might be best done outside.

Remind your kids not to tear up the garden searching for materials. Take only what’s fallen to the ground, and take only what they need. 

Encourage your kids to get creative in their representations. Their ecosystems do not have to have perfect looking trees. Use what’s available in combination with your imagination.

You might like to go for a walk around the neighbourhood and talk with your kid/s about what ecosystems they can see and what they contain.

Lesson & Curriculum Details

Curriculum codes:

Complete lesson for classroom teachers:

Ecosystem in a box

Resources Required

  • Cardboard (a cereal box or other flat card that can be cut into pieces)
  • Coloured paper
  • Coloured pencils or markers
  • Dirt, grass, sand, rocks and other natural materials (these can be substituted with coloured paper)
  • Glue
  • Device with internet access
  • Paint
  • Printer
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Shoebox (if using a shoebox is too difficult or will take too long, use a large piece of white paper divided into quarters)
  • Sticky tape

Learning@Home from Cool Australia

Learning@Home resources are designed for parents and teachers to use with children in the home environment. They can be used as stand-alone activities or built into existing curriculum-aligned learning programs. Our Learning@Home series includes two types of resources. The first are fun and challenging real-world activities for all ages, the second are self-directed lessons for upper primary and secondary students. These lessons support independent learning in remote or school settings.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

Worksheets

Student Worksheet

Shoebox Ecosystem Diorama - Activity Instructions

How good is your David Attenborough impression? Create mini ecosystems in a shoebox with natural materials from around your home, and perhaps you can practise narrating nature and start on the path to becoming a world-famous ecologist.

Step 1. An ecosystem is a group of living and nonliving things found in a certain area. It includes plants, animals and micro-organisms, as well as the rocks, soil, landscape and the weather. Everything interacts together to keep the area alive.

Using the internet, research four ecosystems that are visually different from one another. Quickly list all the things you might find in these ecosystems.

Step 2. Divide your shoebox into four quadrants by cutting walls of cardboard and sticking them down the middle both ways. Label your four different ecosystems, for example 'Desert, rainforest, mountain, ocean'.

Step 3. Gather materials from outside that you can use to decorate your ecosystems, such as leav

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