A Portrait in the Landscape

Individual shoebox diorama displaying a portrait of a character, the student, or someone the student knows, in a landscape within the interior of the cardboard box.


1. Appreciation for and understanding the environment, ourselves, and each other.

2. Awareness of the effect we may have on the environment and how it can positively affect us.

Recommended Ages

Elementary to adult

Historical Art Examples or References

“Evening” or Kidnapped illustration by N. C. Wyeth, The Black Arrow illustration by N. C. Wyeth, “Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth, and “Summertime” by Edward Hopper.









Shoebox and/or shoebox lid

Construction paper



Color pencils

Tissue paper (optional)

Cotton (optional)

Anticipatory Set

What do you notice about how the figures are positioned within the painting? What might these figures be thinking about? Does the natural world change when we are in it? Does it change us? Have students engage with the paintings and the idea of humans interacting with nature. Ask students how they feel in different environments.

1. Demonstrate drawing a character onto cardboard lid or one of the (removed) longer walls of the box.
(5 minutes)

2. Have students draw and cut out their own characters.
(15 minutes)

3. Cut out soft outline around drawn character as well as a paper strip to bend and glue on back for handle.
(5 minutes)

4. Have students decorate the interior of box, according to chosen orientation, with shapes cut from construction paper, cotton balls, tissue paper, and glue.
(15-20 minutes)

4. Demonstrate using the flap to glue the drawn character into diorama while students follow along.
(5 minutes)

5. Clean up and display!
(5 minutes)

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