3D Adventure Scene in a Jar

They turned out even better than I expected!  The idea for this activity is to create a 3D scene in a jar using a photograph of the kids on a themed background.  So, in a sense, they are transformed into another world! It’s very, very cool. The making process was a lot of fun too, and not only for the kids.

I saved the jars I used for our White Christmas in a Jar and was thinking about what we could do with them.  The kids loved the trees in a jar, and would peer into them, willing it to to take them to another world.  That is what inspired me to fill the now empty jars with a scene to do just that. This is how it all happened. Now, it is a bit of a process, but it’s really is very easy; perfect for a lazy afternoon.

Materials Used

Large glass jar

A4 size thick photo paper

Colour printer

Craft Glue

Board and Stanly Knife (or scissors)

3D items like a rock, stick sand or glitter

1. Where do you want to go?

First, I chatted to the kids about what they wanted to be in the jar.  One wanted to be a pirate, and the other a fairy.

2. Dress up

Dressing up is part of the fun.  We added a eyeliner face scar for the pirate and some sparkly blush for the fairy. Oh, and we didn’t have any fairy wings so we made some our of a large cardboard box (and pegged it to the dress).

dress ups -- fairy and pirate

3. Photograph

Again, this is part of the fun because the kids can get into character.

Tips for taking photos (you’ll thank me for this when you come to cutting out the figure later):  

a) Ensure the subject’s arms are either out from the body (dad pic), next to or in front of body (mum pic), behind the body (no.1 daughter picture) or in a clear pose (last three kids).  This will make it easier when it comes time to cut them out.  The below picture is from when we made Photo Paper Dolls.

family photo dolls

b) Hold the camera directly at the person, rather than looking down at the subject from above (so this means with a child, you’ll have to crouch down). This way the proportions of the body stay true.

tips for taking photos

4.  Background

There are many background pictures on the web.  I used this Ocean Wallpaper and Magical Woods Wallpaper.   So, depending on the scene you are making (pirate, fairy, princess, wildlife warrior, snow adventurer or whatever!) look for a wallpaper to match by googling. Here are some examples: Forest Wallpaper, Castle Wallpaper, Magical Wallpaper, Ocean Wallpaper, Snow Wallpaper.

Once the kids decided on the background they liked, we downloaded the picture it to the computer and printed it on A4 photo paper.

ocean background

magical fairy background

5. Cut to size

Using one side of the jar as a guide, cut the background scene to size so it fits snug inside the back of the jar.  You only use a small portion of the entire background scene so select a section that looks best. For example, I wanted the stairs in the background of the fairy scene so I made sure that was in the section that I cut.

6. Print Photo

Select the picture you’re using of the child and insert into a somewhere like Microsoft Word of Publisher (open a new document and ensure it’s in landscape rather than portrait). I used Publisher, and inserted the two pictures I was using to a landscape page and resized the photos to the size that would fit inside the jar. There is a bit of trial and error here in relation to size, but by using a A4 as a guide, you can get an idea of how big the pictures should be.  Of course, you can just have the photos printed the regular photo size at a local photo developer centre too.

Print the picture on an A4 piece of paper.

fairy and pirate

7. Cut Figure

Cut around the entire photo figure (and adult really needs to do this part).  You can use scissors to cut out the figure, but it’s easier to be precise if you use a board and a Stanly knife.

photo coll cut with stanly knife

Tip: Leave a couple of centremetres at the bottom of the figure, under the feet. You will bend this over and use this to glue the figure to the bottom of the jar.

3d scene

8. Put it together

I love the idea of using three different levels in the jar: there’s the background, the photo doll, and then something that is 3D, like a rock or stick to stand on. And then sand, glitter or salt (for snow) to cover the bottom of the jar.  We used a rock for each figure to stand on in the jar, and then for the pirate scene, we covered the base of the jar in rocks, and the fairy scene, we used star scatters and glitter.

3D Adventure Scene in a Jar

a) Insert the background into the jar (trim to size if needed so it sits flush at the back of the jar). Use a little craft glue to affix if needed.

b) Bend the excess on the photo figure back away and glue to the rock (I used thick paper so the photo doll stood up well, but you can use some reinforcement at the back to ensure it stands up and stays in place; use a rectangle piece of thick paper at back of the figure at the base). Then glue the rock to the bottom of the jar.

c) Cover the base of the jar with whatever materials suit the scene, like sand, salt, rocks, streamers, glitter, jewels, pearls or whatever!

d) Place the lid on when the glue is dry and decorate a room!

3d adventure scene in a jar


How adorable is it!! They look even more fabulous in real life!   We all enjoyed this afternoon activity and I’m sure our 3D Adventure Jars will become inspiration for story time too.

3D Adventure in a Jar


3D Photo in a Jar

Meg S sent me in a picture of her finished creation.  I love how the three kids are in there too. Great Christmas present idea for grandparents.

adventure jar

*picture used with permission


See how the jars are displayed in the kids room

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