Kid Craft: Finding Dory Dioramas

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Kids everywhere will LOVE this #FindingDory under the sea craft - making interactive dioramas they can play with and display. #FamilyMovieWithKleenex #ad

I remember something my little sister said last year that made me beam for days.

She was pregnant and it was a winter night, with the sunset creeping ever closer to afternoon, and we had about eight minutes to do a maternity shoot. Somehow we managed it, in the near dark, and I later handed (emailed) over her pictures. “I’ll do newborn ones too!” I said, because of course I would do that for my sister. And that’s when she said it. She said, “Man, having a photographer for a sister is so clutch.” I couldn’t stop beaming. I was so happy she had noticed!

Finding Dory

Now I’m going to tell you how I use the term. “Having an art teacher for a mom is SO CLUTCH.” I probably don’t sound as cool as my sister did, but that’s ok. The thing is clutch. My mom has been an artist/art teacher for about 40 years now. She expresses her thoughts, opinions, experiences and DREAMS through art. I used to be her art assistant and I’ve taken note of the projects the kids really took to the most, and I use them with my own kids. It amazes me how imaginative they are.

Finding Dory

I should know now how that my kids are highly interested in expressing themselves through art.

(I love his art face)

We saw Finding Dory when it came out, and it was the first movie Des ever saw in 3D, and only the second time for me! I had been worried it would be too much stimulation for him, or more honestly – for me – but it was really dreamy. We felt like we were underwater the entire time we watched the movie! For weeks when I explained it to people, I wanted so badly to be able to capture that dreamy, underwater feeling I had for the full 1-2 hours. We laughed together. We cried together.

We were underwater together.

We stayed at my parent’s house for Christmas and had a full day with time to relax. This means staying in pajamas until at least 3:00pm, assuming you’re getting dressed at all, and finding fun art projects for the kids. Not only is my mom an artist and art teacher to children, she has made a name for herself making exquisite and detailed dioramas. They tell stories, emotions, and experiences. They show moments in time. Both adults and kids love to express themselves with dioramas.

This tutorial will show you how to make a Finding Dory undersea experience with just a shoe box, or any cardboard box. My mom’s students have loved to make dioramas for decades now. It requires some adult help – like cutting out the sides of the box to look like a fish tank, and using spray paint in a safe spot. And kids often need help with threading the fish to look like they’re “swimming” but mostly – this project is all about imagination & wonder. The diorama becomes a whole world:

(Scarlet has informed me that the turtle is upside down here! Sleeping)

What You Need:

Shoebox or spare box left over from the holidays
An X-ACTO blade/knife or something like that
Blue cellophane, and if you don’t have that – plastic wrap will do
Model Magic in several colors – bought in many craft/box stores
Rolling pin (this is optional but Des loves it)
Silver or blue spray paint, or even paint/brushes if you’re up for the task
Construction paper scraps to make sea creatures (optional)
Googly eyes (also optional because kids can make eyes out of model magic)
Toothpicks, sticks to help mold clay, plates to work on, etc.

What You Do:

1 – Get the kids started with modeling the sea creatures. We keep ours in separate sealed bags so they don’t dry out, and we don’t mix colors. Use strong scissors to cut strips of the colors the kids want to use for their undersea adventures.



2 – Meanwhile, ready your box! Use the X-ACTO knife to cut out three sides of the box, to make it an open and interactive project. The sides are where you will stick blue cellophane or even clear plastic wrap when your box is ready.

3 – Next, it’s time for painting. My mom and I went out on a porch and sprayed over newspaper. You can also choose to hand-paint the box, or have your children paint the box. We chose silver, but I’m sure that blue would be a nice look too.

4 – Now it’s time to attach the blue cellophane (or plastic wrap) across the cut-out parts of the box to give it an aquarium look. You can use a glue stick or even rubber cement. Kids use glue sticks or paste if they’re doing this part.

5 – Model Magic takes 24 hours to dry so we wait. Then using toothpicks, you can stick thread or string through your sea creatures and tape or glue them to the top of the diorama. You can also glue or tape in construction paper creations.

Then you have to decide how to decorate your home with your new diorama!

Speaking of decorating the house, I was at BJ’s Wholesale Club a few days ago, stocking up on supplies for the FOUR houseguests we’re having from now until January, when I came across the most adorable little girl in a shopping cart. “Hi!” She kept saying. She had a cold and her dad was buying her supplies. They were buying Kleenex® Finding Dory Tissue Box Designs and she was so happy. As I walked along the store during my shopping trip, I kept hearing her say, “Hi!” to everyone she saw. It’s the little things, isn’t it? I ran back to that aisle to get a box (or several) of my own:

Kleenex® are soft, strong, and absorbent – as always. My kids are pretty happy to decorate our home with these Dory and friends designs, and to take them wherever we go. They’re perfect for houseguests too!

We’re going to snuggle up with our houseguests and our tissues, and watch our new favorite movie! Right now if you buy any Kleenex® packaging, you can upload your receipt and get a free movie rental! I can’t wait to enjoy the next week or so of holiday vacation. Kleenex® have a perfect balance of softness and strength, are also durable with their 2-ply thickness, and are also absorbent to lock in moisture. They’re essential for makeup smudges, sniffles and sneezes, & messy faces!

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  1. I absolutely love your Finding Dory themed diorama and got to tell you in our home it is Kevin, who was and still an art teacher at the heat of the matter. So, my kids also love to be hands-on, crafty and artsy, too. Totally going to have to show this to Kevin and see if he can try to tackle this with our girls now, too 🙂

    1. It’s Cassidy here! Today, he made signs with the kids. And if not him, my mom 100%! I’m.. not as good as such things, but I do love dioramas!

  2. We have bought lots of the Dory and Frozen kleenex boxes this cold season. Our family also enjoyed the movie Finding Dora a lot. This is a craf that my son would love.

  3. Hm, I just bought some packages of Kleenex at Target, but I threw away the receipt already – oh well… I have not seen Finding Dory yet, but the diorama you, your mom and kids made is adorable. Crafting is a lot of fun, especially when you can do it together as a family.
    I hope you had a wonderful holiday time, Tamara. Happy New Year!

  4. How cute is this! My kids would love doing this craft. You guys are so creative. I love the Kleenex boxes, those probably need to make their way to our home 🙂

  5. Back in my school days, I would get so excited when we had to make a diorama! I’ve said it before, but your kids are so naturally artistic. So cute!

  6. How adorable is this craft? I loved this movie far much more than Finding Nemo. Dory is my spirit animal — errr Fish.
    I think hands on art like this with clay (model magic – I think they call it something different over here because Canadians are weird) is super good for my son’s sensory needs right now. It keeps him calm. It’s hard to explain but when he digs in with his hands, it calms him. Like fine motor art isn’t his thing. We have stacks of play-doh in our house. I really love this idea. Thanks girly!

    1. I really think I liked it better too. Finding Nemo makes me bite my nails more.
      I have always had anxiety/sensory stuff and I’ve grown up with my hands in clay. It really helps.

  7. Oh, my goodness–how cute is this DIY craft!! I know some kiddos who would LOVE to do this on a cold, wintry night… or a rainy day. Thank you so much for sharing — I love how your Finding Dory diorama turned out! XO

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