Paper Mache Dinosaur Cave

Dinosaur Paper Mache Cave Small World Play by Crayon Box Chronicles

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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:

Paper Choices brown paper strips for paper mache 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 recycled cans for paper mache 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. making paper mache cast 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. making cave cast Add 1-2 layers, then let dry for 24 hours.  The sun helps speed up the process too. paper mache dinosaur cave After 24 hours, here’s two layers. brown paper crinkle technique 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. making paper mache cave 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 child ripping paper Rip the brown paper into smaller sections.  C loved this part! Ripping paper really stimulates sensory muscles too. child making the tunnels 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! recycled containers with paper mache Set aside to dry.  So simple, right?! Dinosaur Diorama Play Dinosaurs playing in paper mache cave

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 world play, engaging in these creative activities helps develop their cognitive, social and emotional, and language skills. Small World Play Materials:

back of paper mache cave 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 standing inside paper mache cave

Brachiosaurus peers intensely as Ankylosaurus, ‘fused lizard,’ creeps by slowly. His heavily armored body and massive bony tail club protects him from predators. dinosaur paper mache cave Dinosaur small world play is our #1 go-to activity! Look! It’s triceratops, iguanodon, corythosaurus, stegosaurus, ankylosaurus, trannosaurus, dimetrodon, velociraptor, spinosaurus, and diplodocus.

Prehistoric sharks in ocean

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!

dinosaur in a paper mache tunnel

Peek-a-boo! Corythosaurus, or as C calls him Corey Corythosaurus from The Dinosaur Train, hides-out inside the paper mache tunnel.

Spinosaurous peaking out of cave

Watch out! Spinosaurus may be the largest of all known carnivorous dinosaurs, even larger than Tyrannosaurus and Giganotosaurus.

dinosaurs near ocean

Brachiosaurus and Dimetrodon meet at the big blue O! C had fun exploring the rocks along the ocean.  We went dinosaur rock jumping together.

dinos on rocks inside paper mache cave

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.

dinosaur play cave and tunnel

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?

Triceratops walking through paper mache tunnel

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.

dinsoaur cave play

Did you have rip-roaring fun? I hope you enjoyed our dinosaur diorama and paper mache project!

Dinosaur Diorama with Paper Mache Cave

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:



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53 thoughts on “Paper Mache Dinosaur Cave

  1. Amavi Moore says:

    This is so cool! Especially today not the kids play time has been lessen because they can’t go outside to play. We can create a dino world and it is also a good bonding activity with my kids.


  2. Cerys @ Rainy Day Mum says:

    This is such a fantastic idea – we have now got some paper mache glue done and I can’t wait to try it out with my two.

    Thank you for linking up to Tuesday Tots last week and just letting you know that I will be featuring this over on Rainy Day Mum this week.


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