How to make a shadow box

Shadow boxes are not only a fun project to build but also serve as an interesting and creative way to store mementos.  This activity can be as involved as you like and is suitable for all ages and abilities from children with learning disabilities to adults with Dementia.

The boxes are traditionally built out of ply wood – see the below how to video for instructions, however you could use an old cardboard box, some drift wood or anything you can find. If you are caring for someone who has an interest in woodwork this can be a really nice project to work on, perhaps you could encourage or help them to sand and wax the wood.

Now time for the fun bit, go outside! Try collecting items that have a sensory appeal, perhaps some soft moss, rustling leaves, pretty flowers or leaves and flowers collected in Maysmooth stones.  Perhaps something you find triggers a memory of a place, person or period of time.  You could record your journey through the items you find for example flowers from outside your house, leaves found walking down your road and some acorns in the park.

Once you have collected some items (and this can be an ongoing project) it’s time to arrange them in your box.  Try tying sticks and twigs with wool or string to the sides, stick small items with glue or sticky dots.  Why not get a map of your local area and stick that in the box in the background.  This activity helps forge connections with the outdoors and nature through a sensory approach and can be repeated and adapted as you see fit.

example of a completed shadow box           creating a shadow box


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