Art Activity Video: Grandma Moses

Create a diorama inspired by Grandma Moses!

Activity best for children age 4 and up

Anna May Robertson Moses was born in 1860 and lived until she was 101 years of age. Anna’s family liked to call her “Grandma Moses.” She loved sewing and embroidery, but like many elderly people, she had stiff hands. So at the age of seventy-eight, she taught herself to paint, and had a certain way of painting that was very fresh, and at the same time very familiar. Grandma Moses painted her happy memories of the landscapes, seasons and people of the mountainous farm community she loved. She wanted us to see all of it, so sometimes you feel like you are looking at her landscapes from a helicopter. Other times, she peels back the side of buildings so you could see what the people are doing inside, like a dollhouse. She painted over 1,500 paintings. She was well-known in her lifetime and her work now hangs in museums throughout the world.

Today we are going to make a diorama inspired by Grandma Moses’s artwork! A diorama, or a shadow box, captures a scene in time. It has parts that are three dimensional and look as we see them in real life. It also has parts of the composition that look close or faraway. We call this perspective.

Materials you’ll need:

A cereal box (or other small box)




Paper (feel free to use our pre-made house template)

Scrap paper (wrapping paper, tissue paper, construction paper etc)

Natural materials (leaves, raffia, twigs etc)

Markers or crayons


House template

Diorama Instructions

Use scissors to cut a window. Start your cut at the open end of the box. Leave enough cardboard as a frame to glue trees or other elements of your scene. 

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Color the background. This is the sky, hills, animals, or anything you see far away. Set this aside.

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House Instructions

Draw a square with a triangle on top. Note: the triangle shares ONE line with the square!

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Draw a rectangle to the right of the house.

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Add the roof! Draw a horizontal line from the top of the triangle. Stop before you get to the end of your rectangle. Finish your roof by drawing a diagonal line from the end of your roof line to the corner of your bottom rectangle.

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Add details including things like windows, doors, and more!

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Cut out the house and glue it on your diorama background and add any other details you would like!

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Add all the elements together! Glue the house and background to the back of the cardboard box. Glue nature materials, like twigs and leaves, to the cardboard frame, this is the foreground. Things in the foreground look close up!

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