Society & Culture & Entertainment Games

Ideas for a Boston Tea Party Diorama

    • Boston Harbor today, where the Boston Tea Party sunset image by drseward from

      The Boston Tea Party is one of the most famous events in America's history. It took place on the night of Dec. 16, 1773, and was one of the pivotal incidents that led to the American Revolution. It occurred in Boston when Americans, angry about various taxes imposed upon them by the British government, disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians and crept onto three moored British ships that were carrying large tea cargoes. The Americans destroyed the tea by dumping it into the Boston Harbor.


    • The group of American colonists responsible for the Boston Tea Party called themselves the Sons of Liberty. A diorama could be made by displaying the preparations of the Sons of Liberty for the Boston Tea Party. The setting for the diorama could be the room where the Sons of Liberty were dressing in their costumes, styling their hair, putting on their war paint and arming themselves. To convey that this is happening at night, the scene could include a window showing a full moon, as well as several lanterns. Paper dolls could be made of the colonists by printing out some of the lithographs and paintings that were made of the event, and then cutting out the colonists from them. To make this diorama interactive, fabric or paper doll clothes could be scattered within the diorama, as well as crayons or paint. Children could be encouraged to experiment with dressing up the colonist paper dolls, or to use crayons and paint to "disguise" them.

    Sailing Through Boston Harbor

    • Another interesting scene from the Boston party is the trip that the Sons of Liberty took to the cargo ships. The Sons of Liberty sailed over to the ships in small boats. Therefore, the setting for this diorama would consist of the costumed colonists sailing the sea in the dead of night, while the larger ships loom behind them. To create the background for this diorama, a photo or drawing of the Boston Harbor at night could be used. The larger ships could be cut out from printouts of any drawings or lithographs of 18th century ships. To make the smaller boats of the colonists three-dimensional, toothpicks and construction paper could be used, and small figurines, representing the colonists, could be placed within them.

    Destroying the Tea Chests

    • Before the Sons of Liberty could dump the tea into the ocean, they needed to break apart the chests in which the tea was contained. They did this using axes. A very simple diorama of this act could be made using real tea leaves, a miniature wooden chest and a miniature axe. The background could be a drawing or painting of the ship's deck, with the ocean at night depicted in the distance. Frayed and broken toothpicks, painted the same color as the tea chest, could be scattered around the axe, representing the destruction of the tea chest. The chest could be stuffed with fragrant tea leaves, and these could be scattered throughout the diorama as well.

    Dumping the Tea

    • The most dramatic diorama scene of the Boston Tea Party would depict the dumping of the tea into Boston Harbor. The setting for this scene should show all three ships sitting in Boston Harbor at night, while tea is being tossed from the ships into the ocean by excited colonists. In this case, real tea may again be used, and the background for this scene can be created by using drawings or picture printouts. The ocean could be represented by blue fabric or even by a map of Boston Harbor. The colonists may be drawn or represented by figurines.

    'Cut-Away' Depiction of the Boston Tea Party

    • A different perspective on the Boston Tea Party would consider the reaction of the marine life in Boston Harbor to this event. This diorama is rather whimsical, but could be visually striking. This diorama could depict the events taking place above sea level---the colonists tossing the tea into Boston Harbor---as well as those taking place below sea level---showing the fish, sea life and plankton in Boston Harbor, as well as some steadily increasing piles of tea. The top of the diorama, showing the Sons of Liberty, could be drawn, while the lower level could be made by placing fish figurines and other marine symbols in a clear, rectangular container of blue-dyed water. Real tea could be utilized to build a link between both levels---it could be glued as if in mid-air on the upper level, while on the "sea" level, it could be tossed into the water and allowed to float.

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