It was quite a dilemma if she will do an Ocean or a Wetland Diorama. Once given an option, Alyssa always have a hard time making a decision. I had to make that myself – told her to take wetlands, it will give her variety of options due to its biodiversity. Usually, she takes the opposite just to show she has a mind of her own, but this time she actually agreed. So Wetland It Is!

So we sat down one day before my training in Albuquerque. We scribbled and planned it, like we always do. She volunteered her clay, and the rest is history. We baked the terrain and burned it! The apartment was up in smoke, I thought the firemen will come barging in for a moment. It was all black, has blotches and bulges all over! I thought we had to redo it. But Alyssa was insistent. She said, “I can paint it, Mom. It will look natural!” So she did and it looked great.

I made the animals that week I was in the city by myself. It helped me sleep. The alligator took the longest to make. It is actually the first animal I have ever made, followed by the frog (that I had to redo couple of times), them the catfish, the snake, turtles, fish, water buffalo and the elephant.

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When I came home from Albuquerque after my first week of training, we made the huts. Now, these huts took the longest of the project! We tried to make them out of clay, out of paper, out of sticks. In the end, it is a combination of paper, sticks and wire that had them standing. Alyssa painted them brown with black accents. Forgetting the doors and the windows!

The boat is of wire frames and clay, baked and painted. Same thing with the villagers. They are stickmen out of clay-wrapped wires. I wrapped them with cloth of different patterns, making sure to reflect the beautiful Vietnamese costume famously called Ao Dai. On the picture below, you can see the comparison between the stick figures not having and having Alyssa’s creation of the cute conical hats also referred to as Non La! I can’t believe how creative she was, and how fast she came up with the hats!

The trees are made of foil painted with brown acrylic paint. We used moss for the leaves. I also got some cut some of Christmas greens for variety. Elijah helped out with the fruits on the villagers boats as well…

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Setting up and gluing every little piece on it’s special place!

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After finding correct placement and some readjustments, we applied the resin. Alyssa suggested we make one of them look like he is fishing. It was something I didn’t even consider doing. But random ideas just all come up as we try to make the diorama more of a scale model. We placed some of Elijah’s stones, as well, to make the Little Man happy.

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The alligator made a scene, again. It took us so long to find it an appropriate spot. And one of the turtles lots it’s head. Too many hands on the project…

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As Alyssa was painting the background, I did some final touches on the water. I painted over the resin to hide some cracks and foil… Placed moss on the water to make it a little real.

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And we waited for the resin to dry up. It took the whole night…

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We added some birds on the diorama. And took more pictures as we come to finalize the project.

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We had such a great time doing Alyssa’s project. She’s always got great ideas and even if it takes so much work, we always seem to make it happen. So, this is the final project of this 5th Grade of Mine. I would not even think of making one when I was 10. I’m just glad there’s a wide variety of materials to use and to choose from as compared to when I was younger.

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