WW1 Trench School Diorama Project

WW1 Anzac trench systems - what a great idea to make at home with your parents on a weekend. With items available aroung the house and from the supermarket, you can create a realistic diorama of a trench from ANZAC cove.">

This is how we spent part of our Sunday with Little Miss K.....building a WWI Trench for her Big Ideas Project!! -Kerry Douvan








Create a realistic trench system for your next school project.

It's an easy project which could be made over a weekend with the help of an adult. Please read all the instructions first because this will enable you to plan your model for the best results.

Happy student with finished project


During the construction of this replica World War 1 trench system, your will need various items commonly found at your local super market or craft shop.

You will need

Getting started

The Plans The Plans The Plans

Find an appropriate size box. Using the cloth tape, tape up the box joins on the inside. Cut the box as in the second picture.

The Plans

The Plans

Draw up some plans on paper to the approximate size of the box you have. Place some styrofoam onto the bottom of the box to measure for size - remove for later. This will go on top of the trenches later.

Make the trench walls

Building the walls Building the walls Shred some newspapers Fill the walls Fit the trench tops Fit the trench tops Fit the trench tops

Cut some cardboard strips about 2cm thinner than the width of the box. Tape / hot glue gun this down into the box to create the walls of walkways of your trench system.

Shred some newspaper and scrunch it up. Use this to fill the 'walls' of the trench.

Cut the styrofoam to shape to go on top of the trench walls.

Paint the trench walls

The paint supplies Painting the walls More painting Painting

Mix some paint to create a nice earthy base coat.

Start painting. Be sure to paint the sides and inside bottom of the box. This can be quite messy so make sure you have plenty of room and things to clean up any drips.

Making the walls

Staining the paddlepop sticks Cutting the top and bottoms off Adding the wooden walls Adding the paper mache to the top Adding the paper mache to the top Adding the paper mache to the top Adding the paper mache to the top Good ole clag for the paper mache Soak some teabags Dry the teabags Cut the strings and glue tem into shape

The walls are made of wooden paddlepop sticks, match sticks and toothpicks.

First, you will need to stain the ice-cream sticks with coffee to make them darker. Then you need to cut off the tops and bottoms with cutting pliers. Place the model on it's back to make it easier to glue the wooden sticks to the sides of the walls. (See the 3rd picture)

Soak a heap of teabags to stain the paper mache paper which will go on top of the trenches and on the ground. Once the paper dries, then add it with the clag and add it to your model as required. Once you have finished with tea bags, dry them out. These make really good sandbags for the trench walls.

Adding detail and finishing touches

Trench roof detial making obsticals with a hot glue gun Making barbwire Making twisted obsticals Making twisted obsticals detail Obstical placed over the front wall Ladder detail Add twigs & background Background, twigs detail Completed detail Finished trench detail Happy student with finished project

Now we add the finishing touches to our trench system. What you add is up to you, but we will be adding some barb-wire obsticals, some trench roofing for shelter, ladders and some realistic looking distroyed trees (twigs)

The trench roof is made with paddlepop sticks glued down over an opening. Add some sand and very small stones glued down on top to give a realistic look.

To make the obsticals, you will need matchsticks / toothpicks glued together with your hot glue gun. Then you will need to twist some soldering solder (cause it bends really easily) and add some finer 'barbs' to add to your obsticals. See the pictures for some ideas.

The soldiers needed some way to go over the top of the trench wall, and this was provided by makeshift ladders in the trenches. You can make these with paddlepop sticks and toothpicks glued together.

Find some suitable twigs in your garden and add them as broken and damaged trees.

Add a background picture. We found a black and white one added to effect of the history of trench warefare. You can find these by searching Google and find a picture you like and print it out, stick it on the back board.

Place the whole model somewhere safe to dry, and you're finished.

Some possible backgrounds

Backgrounds (Source: Australian War Memorial Backgrounds (Source: Australian War Memorial Backgrounds (Source: Australian War Memorial Backgrounds (Source: Australian War Memorial Backgrounds (Source: Australian War Memorial Backgrounds (Source: Australian War Memorial

Here are some backgrounds. They are in all different resolutions. Download them and print them out and see which one suits your trench model the best.

These images are from the ANZAC no mans land photos from the Australian War Memorial. They have an extrnsive collection of historical photographs from this and many other periods. I would hightly recommend visiting the memorial in Canberra if you ever get the chance, or else visit the AWM webpage at http://www.awm.gov.au

Finished project


This school project was created by some very creative people including, Maree, Kerry and Miss K. Their imagination and dedication are evident in this tutorial. They kindly gave me permission to reproduce their photos with instructions to help other kids create very educational school projects.

Any feedback, please feel free to email me at david@icbm.com.au