This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.
Junior Paleontologists, let’s venture deep into the Mesozoic Era, the ‘Age of Reptiles,’ with ferocious dinosaurs and a rough, rock-like paper mache cave and tunnels. Our dinosaur diorama explores the wild, prehistoric terrain of sensory materials and homemade goopy glue. We’re building a dinosaur cave using recycled jars and lids, coffee cans, and our easy-to-make paper mache glue for kids. Open your reptilian, ‘terrible lizard’ imaginations and join us for dino-mite discoveries
Cave Craft Materials:
There are several different types of paper to use for paper mache projects. Brown packing paper is my top choice for a distressed, rugged look and feel. Amazon sends a large amount with our monthly shipments, so I recycle it into art projects. Brown paper is raw, so it absorbs paint nicely. Poster paints work well for the kids and acrylic for adults.
Newspaper is a great, inexpensive option for paper mache projects. It’s very absorbent and easy to work with for kids. However, newspaper is harder to paint over. When painting paper mache sculptures, use white paper for your top layer. It’s much easier to cover than newspaper.
Tissue paper is more delicate, but there are so many beautiful color and print options. For smaller, more detailed projects, apply glue mixture with a paintbrush.
Creating the Cave Cast
To create our cast we used recycled bottles and jars, lids, and paper towel tubes. You can also use balloons, wire, cardboard, balls, and boxes. Sculpting with paper mache is a great DIY kids project.
Once you’ve made your paper mache glue for kids [link to recipe in craft materials list above], simply soak your ripped or cut strips of newspaper, brown paper, or tissue paper into your mixture, remove any access, and apply to your surface.
Add 1-2 layers, then let dry for 24 hours. The sun helps speed up the process too.
After 24 hours, here’s two layers.
We added another layer to create a ‘rocky’ textured effect by crumbling brown packing paper and applying with paper mache glue. Instead of glueing the third layer down flat, we created ridges and dumps to give it a realistic cave appearance.
I trimmed the edges to create a smooth finish around the arches. For a more textured rugged look, leave the edges raw. Once dried, the resulting material can be cut, sanded and/or painted. Before painting any product of paper mache, the glue must be fully dried, otherwise mold will form and the product will rot from the inside out. Salt helps prevent mold, but allowing each layer to dry is the most important part. With our no-cook glue recipe, starch method is the strongest, best for adults, uses 2-3 layers, followed by the no-cook method, best for kids, uses 3-4 layers.
ArtClubBlog has a wonderful creature cave using plaster of paris bandage rolls and bones. No paper and definitely creative!
Creating the Tunnels
Rip the brown paper into smaller sections. C loved this part! Ripping paper really stimulates sensory muscles too.
We upcycled baby O’s containers for our tunnels. No O’s containers? Juice bottles and/or plastic food containers work great too. For the O’s containers, remove the cap, cut off the bottom, and smooth the edges out with scissors. Apply the glue to the container, than add a square, and apply more glue. C loved using the large paintbrush!
Set aside to dry. So simple, right?!
Dinosaur Diorama Play
Engaging in pretend play helps children express their creativity and build self-esteem. With a child’s eagerness to learn and experiment, the possibilities to explore are endless. Whether your child enjoys dress-up, puppet theatre, tea time, or small wold play, engaging in these creative activities helps develop their cognitive, social and emotional, and language skills.
Small World Play Materials:
We assembled our dinosaur diorama using a large piece of wood, added a moss mat, tan spanish moss for the ‘dirt’ inside the cave, blue paper to cover the ‘water’ area of the board, and rocks and gems. Easy to set-up dinosaur small world, right? It’s dino playtime!
Brachiosaurus peers intensely as Ankylosaurus, ‘fused lizard,’ creeps by slowly. His heavily armored body and massive bony tail club protects him from predators.
Dinosaur small world play is our #1 go-to activity! Look! It’s triceratops, iguanodon, corythosaurus, stegosaurus, ankylosaurus, trannosaurus, dimetrodon, velociraptor, spinosaurus, and diplodocus.
A dinosaur diorama wouldn’t be complete with out the ocean and ferocious, horned-crested Prehistoric Sharks! Helicoprion’s bizarre tooth coil was thought to be used to grind away the shells of swallowed mollusks. Do you think he used it for food or protection? Eek!
Peek-a-boo! Corythosaurus, or as C calls him Corey Corythosaurus from The Dinosaur Train, hides-out inside the paper mache tunnel.
Watch out! Spinosaurus may be the largest of all known carnivorous dinosaurs, even larger than Tyrannosaurus and Giganotosaurus.
Brachiosaurus and Dimetrodon meet at the big blue O! C had fun exploring the rocks along the ocean. We went dinosaur rock jumping together.
Velociraptor is a bipedal, feathered carnivore with a long tail and an enlarged sickle-shaped claw on each hindfoot, which is thought to have been used to kill its prey.
More dinosaur play fun! Paper mache has such a realistic textured look – perfect for caves and tunnels. My favorite part is the roof of the cave. The brown torn paper helps create an aged, rough appearance. Plus, recycled crafts are great way to conserve and minimize cost for creative play. Did you get a chance to see our recycled Alligator Affirmation Box?
Beware Triceratops! T-rex may be on the hunt! Triceratops, ‘three-horned face,’ is one of the most recognizable of all dinosaurs and the best known ceratopsid.
Did you have rip-roaring fun? I hope you enjoyed our dinosaur diorama and paper mache project!
Fact Source: WikiHow Dinosaurs.
There are so many creative ways to explore play. Adding a mobile cave and tunnels for imaginative play, just makes it more fun! RAWR!
For more dinosaur activities, check out:
For updates on all our fun activities, please consider Subscribing by Email or RSS Feed. Connect with us on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, & Goggle+.