Making a Model of the Nile River

Here is how we made a model diorama of the Nile River for our Tapestry of Grace history homeschool studies.As I shared in this blog post, I am not a craft person, but I value the learning that happens through hands-on activities. So, I want to share what we do so you can be inspired to do more hands-on “imperfect” activities with your kids!

In our Tapestry of Grace studies, we have been learning about ancient Egypt and the daily life of the Egyptians. I have been enjoying the book selections and delighting in seeing my kids come to love what they are learning. From our readings, the kids have come to realize that you can’t understand Egypt until you understand the Nile River.

We read aloud these books and enjoyed the descriptions of life near the Nile.

  • Kingfisher Atlas of World History: This is my favorite atlas for younger students. The maps and illustrations are superb and help tell the story about the geographical area.
  • The Nile River: This is a fun, simple book that explains details about the Nile.
  • The Great Pyramid: This book talks about building a Pyramid, but the importance of the Nile flows through the whole story. The illustrations are beautiful!

After reading these books, I realized that the best way to help solidify all that the kids have learned about Egypt would be to allow each child to recreate a Nile River as a model.


  • Disposable baking pans, found at any local grocery store
  • A bag of dirt or sand (we couldn’t find sand, so we used some leftover gravel we had.)
  • Tin foil
  • Sticks and weeds from around the yard
  • Left over seedling cups (the kids found them in the garage and thought they looked like pyramids.)
  • Water color tablets (this is not necessary, but I had them on hand and turning the water blue was fun. We could also use the red tablets to turn the Nile to blood during our reenactment of the plagues of Egypt!)

Although initially I thought we would do this project in the house, I quickly realized that we should set up in the garage. It is a messy process when you let the kids build it themselves!

We started by putting down a layer of dirt and gravel, and then made the tin foil into a river basin. We made one side of the river higher than the other to show how the river would flood down the mountains of Ethiopia and bring all the nutrient rich dirt with it.Here is how we made a model of the Nile river for our Tapestry of Grace history homeschool studies.

Then, I sent the kids out to the yard to gather leaves and grass to add some interest to their river banks. I think their favorite part was finding things that they thought would fit into their diorama and make it look more like the Nile. Here is how we made a model of the Nile river for our Tapestry of Grace history homeschool studies

They each got to add the water to demonstrate the flooding of the banks.

Here were their different finished products!Here is how we made a model of the Nile river for our Tapestry of Grace history homeschool studies

The kids loved the project, and flooding the diorama helped them better understand how the Nile would flood every year to help crops grow.

If you want to see a few other ideas of how to do this project, see the links below:

2 thoughts on “Making a Model of the Nile River

  1. Charlotte

    This is fantastic! My son has a project on river mile so thinking of doing similar but instead of using water I was thinking of using felt or blue tissue paper, just wondering if you would know what would be best to use out of these two?, also what would glue would be best to stick it together with?

    1. Jessica Post author

      Hi Charlotte! Your son will have fun making a model! When choosing between felt and tissue paper, I think it depends on what you want to do. Felt will look darker for water, and a boat will sit smoothly on top if you are adding a boat. But tissue paper will show movement if you want the water to have ripples. I would leave it up to your son to see what he wants =) Also, simple white school glue should work for either medium, especially since you won’t be using real water. Hope you enjoy your project!


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