There are few hallmarks of early education that stick to the memory as much as my discovery (and exploitation) of the Diorama in Elementary School.
For those who GRDed their way outta the system REAL young, the Diorama is basically an education in a box. A shoebox (to be specific) forms stage and boundaries and an educational scene is picked and illustrated within such confines.
Over the extent of my elementary education I not only fell in love with the Diorama concept, but produced some unsung award-winning (to my mind, anyhowz) presentations that endeared me to teacher and peers alike.
To condense the entire elementary school era into a proper Timeline (yet another engrained lesson):
(a) The Diorama concept is introduced – just in time for (b) the lesson covering interactive skills.
In order to produce a truly interactive experience for one’s audience, it is best to keep in mind that a catapult and a box ‘o Peeps WILL go far, even when couched within the confines of a traditional shoebox Diorama. Sure, the net effect is somewhat diminished, given its size – but I successfully uncovered proof that a proper catapult, however small, WILL hurl a Marshmallow Peep quite a distance, involving the entire classroom in an impromptu Easter Peep Hunt. I even impressed my teacher by documenting the tenacity of Peeps, which successfully hid even from the janitor’s ministrations and produced delightful finds for days thereafter.
. The Planets. And YES, you can fit the entire solar system into a diorama. Note: using the head of a yellow Peep as the Sun is apparently (a) “not funny” to authority figures and (b) also apparently brings up teacher’s baad memories of the hitherto-nearly-forgotten First Grade Diorama experience. Note 2: if you make the planets and sun out of jellybeans and peeps and auction off your Diorama at class’s end, you CAN earn enough to actually pay for ALL the candy with a little money left over. (Just “do it outside of school grounds”, as Entrepreneurial Pursuits 101 doesn’t actually begin until high school, when the School Store gets going and such behaviors are actually condoned, not punished….)
. Dinosaurs. Be advised: only one BIG plastic dinosaur (or three dwarfs) will fit within the diorama’s boundaries. You CAN include small ferns and bonsai designed to fill in the landscape, but generally speaking while peers will delight in the realism of several plastic dinosaurs holding blood-dripping pieces of meat (furtively carved from that night’s forthcoming dinner roast – making your evening homecoming welcome dicey) in their plastic teeth, Teacher is NOT IMPRESSED by the fact that YOUR Dinosaur Diorama is now reeking up da room due to an unfortunate backlog in Diorama Presentations that week that resulted in a few days of odorous delay.
. Volcano. The Diorama format CAN be used – albeit only once – to spew actual ‘hot lava’ in the form of hot fudge heated to boiling in the Teacher’s Room microwave assisted by a turkey baster ‘hand pump’ funneled through the back ‘o the diorama box and strategically filled with fudge. Tip: be certain the School Nurse is IN during your demo. Greedy fingers burn easily!
. Crystals. We were SUPPOSED to ‘grow’ them for our newfound geology unit; but Rock Candy looks AWESOMELY crystal-like, one can create impressive Crystal Forests in a Diorama box using such (as opposed to waiting 4 whole weeks for an INEDIBLE display holding a LOT less impact) and then (as with the Volcano and The Planets) one can either consume or sell off one’s award-winner: yet another ‘plus’.
. Measurement and Estimation. Proving that a jungle-type Diorama (with the lid ON) inviting student calculations as to “how many Tree Frogs can fit in a Diorama Shoebox” CAN prove exciting and stimulating to enquiring young minds when the lid comes off and the diorama display contents are hopping away too powerfully to actually be COUNTED.
I simply adored elementary school.
And The Diorama. As with any superior idea, it could be used again and again with infinite variations to assure a superior grade and continued peer popularity.
They discontinued The Diorama entirely come Middle School.
I guess Teacher alerted the upcoming grades about a few MINOR issues revolving around Diane’s Unforgettable Dioramas – unfortunately before I got anywhere near the coveted Chemistry portion of education’s agenda.
PS: I discovered the Diorama never really goes away, for some. Just, the words change.
When you’re old enough, it magically transforms into the more-adult pursuit of ‘modelling’.