DIY Dino Land
A couple of months ago I came across a great activity for my kids to do! It was shortly after COVID-19 hit Utah and the schools closed. Looking for things to keep my two young boys busy, I happened upon a set of Dinosaur "Dig it up!" Eggs at Walmart. I could not find the same set again browsing online, but our set of 12 was very similar to this one from Amazon.
These kits are really neat because they come with 12 different dinosaurs, along with a little pamphlet that describes each one. I used this as a weekly activity, giving them each an egg to break apart every Wednesday. Between theirs and mine (of course I wanted to do it too), it took us a month to get through them all.
While we sat there breaking away at our dinosaur eggs, we discussed how cool it would be to create a little world of their own, complete with water for the Plesiosaurus and a cliff nest for the Pteranodon. We agreed that once all the dinosaurs were "hatched", that would be our next project!
It took us another month to complete the dinosaurs' home, and now I'd like to share it with you! Below you'll find a step-by-step guide for creating a truly unique dinosaur world. Because I am an art-supply-hoarder, I ended up spending less than $25 on our Dino Land (plus another $20-$30 on the dinosaurs - I can't remember exactly how much). If you don't have a lot of these items on hand, this could easily become a costly project. I recommend keeping it small and seeing how your kids like it before going bigger, and drawing the project out over several weeks to make it more about the creation process than the end result.
Step 1 - Designing Our Land
Estimated time: 30 minutes
We began our project by first designing what we envisioned it looking like. I didn't keep our original drawings unfortunately, but thinking things through and having some plans written down is a good idea when beginning any large project. My five-year old, three-year old and I had a very serious discussion about our design ;).
We talked about what dinosaur toys we had, what type of food each of them would require, what kind of land they might prefer, and where and how we could realistically build the land.
To kill a little more time, I had the boys color their plans, then I drew a final design using elements from both of their drawings and descriptions - so that both would feel like they contributed to the final design.
Step 2 - Finding A Container
Estimated time: 30-60 minutes
Plastic Container (more wide than deep)
I knew that I wanted this project to be created within a container that could be lidded and put away, perhaps in a closet or under a bed. I found a wide but shallow container I already had and emptied the contents (sorry picture frames, you'll have to go elsewhere).
I recommend starting with your container and designing your land to fit it. We chose a shallow container because I thought it would be easier for them to reach the insides than one that was deeper. It also allowed for more surface area for our building. Our container ended up being about 29"x17.5"x5.5".
Because I wasn't sure how successful our Dinosaur Land would be, I didn't want to ruin a perfectly good container for the project. We decided to cut apart a cardboard box and make our own box within the container. This was a little tricky, but with patience and a lot of tape, we were able to cover the inside of our container with cardboard. If we ever wanted to, we could pull our whole land out by the cardboard - you know, in case I need to repurpose this rubbermaid for yet another project.
Step 3 - Creating Our Foundation
Estimated time: 30 minutes