DIY Jurassic Park

This Dinosaur walk at the Nature and Life Science Center in Durham, NC serves as my inspiration. Crazy thought – How can I recreate this at home?

Want to make your very own Jurassic Park? Less frightening and much smaller than the actual Jurassic Park, this miniature dinosaur habitat is still capable of captivating your munchkins’ attention for DAYS. This could also be a great centerpiece for a birthday party and would also make a cherished gift at the holidays.

I’ll walk you through the steps and supplies we used… HOWEVER, you can use whatever you have on hand or can find in your community.

Check out our favorite attraction: the bug crunching Venus Flytrap! We bought ours at Whole Foods.

Here’s what we collected to create our habitat:

  1. Moss (from a craft store)
  2. River rocks (also from a craft store)
  3. A Dinosaur Toob by Safari or any small plastic dinosaurs
  4. A galvanized aluminum tray or other container (make sure you seal any seams so water doesn’t leak out of your tray)
  5. Real Plants ( we chose a Venus Fly Trap, some small house plants, and fresh-cut Spider Mums in a glass.
  6. Fake Plants (grass and a fern sprig – all bought at a local crafts store)
  7. Water to fill the bottom of the tray (so your live plants can soak up water as needed.)

To get started we talked about the word ‘habitat,’ while reading a picture book about dinosaurs. We were careful to notice the things around the dinos like rocks, trees, plants and water. Then we took a look at our supplies and talked about each one.

I set out the elements and the empty tray. C’s job was to create the habitat. This turned out to be a great opportunity for him to express his independence. He arranged all of the components in the tray as he wished.

Our moss rests in terra-cotta saucers and plastic lids to keep it dry.

Lastly we added the dinosaurs and started to play.

A pack of dinosaur flash cards ($1) provided a matching activity.

C. carefully compared the dinos in his habitat to those featured on the cards. This was a great problem solving activity and an opportunity to flex those observation skills… “does this one have two claws or three? Are the arms long or short? Is the tail big or small?”

A bucket of crayons and a dinosaur coloring book offered another related activity.

And the best part of all for this recovering Type-A, I think this project is great looking! I never, in my wildest dreams, expected it to be attractive. But dare I say, it’s nearly Martha Stewart worthy… something that almost never happens in our house. If Martha were a drug, I feel like I just had a fix! And I am enjoying the high, at least until Baby Q spits up all over me.

TODDLER TAKE AWAYS:

  1. Vocabulary expansion
  2. Nature, science and history lesson
  3. Fine motor skills development
  4. Creative development and expression
  5. Problem solving skills
  6. Sensory development
  7. Gardening skills
  8. Responsibility for another living thing

Enjoy!

Anna

One thought on “DIY Jurassic Park

  1. this is way too cute! my boyfriend is a plant-freak and I am just planning to surprise him with a Venus flytrap next week, because he saw one in the store the other day and can’t shut up about it! really great idea, I bet your kid loves it! 🙂

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