Create your own Jurassic Park Table Top!
Building your own dinosaur play scene or play mat with your dinosaur obsessed kids is very simple and with a few household items like old newspapers, cardboard, leftover paint and egg cartons, you can soon create your own dinosaur diorama, the perfect setting for your kid’s dinosaur toys and models.
Creating the landscape using cardboard, an old base of a toy fort or a castle is quite simple, but often parents ask us what type of plants they should put in their play mat landscape. help is just around the corner and we’ve got some suggestions to help moms and dads create a dinosaur play mat theme without much effort or expense.
Making shrubs, trees and plants models for your play mat or dinosaur diorama
Making the vegetation for a Jurassic Park style play mat is pretty easy and the best of all kids can get involved by helping to make the plants, trees, and bushes their herbivorous dinosaurs can eat. However, be careful when it comes to using scissors, make sure children are well supervised, and we recommend laying down sheets of newspaper to protect kitchen work surfaces or the tops of the kitchen. table where you are working as some paintings can split as young children can become a little too eager to finish off their prehistoric plants.
First some bushes
Take brown crepe paper, brown paper (even newspaper painted brown looks perfect), crumple it into a small ball. If you have old ping pong balls, even better. Simply paint the balls brown and these can be the basis for cycad plants. Cycads are fern-like plants that evolved in the Paleozoic, flourished during the dinosaur (Mesozoic) era, being the staple diet of many herbivores such as Stegosaurus and they still survive today. They are palm-shaped seed plants with massive, thick trunk-shaped stems and a crown of fern-shaped leaves. The Dicksonia Tree Fern is a popular garden plant, it makes a spectacular focal point in any flora display, so no dinosaur play mat would be complete without a few of these weird plants.
Once the cycad bases are done, take a green card and cut out some fronds that tap into a point (make them look like palm leaves). When creating the fern wreath for your cycad, I find it best to take a piece of green card or green paper, cut out a triangle shape, and then cut small, uneven notches on the sides to create the frond effect . Make leaves of different sizes, then simply glue them on top of your cycad base using glue or tape. Arrange the fronds in a circular pattern around the top of your cycad.
Make a cycad – cheat trick
Here is a quick tip for making cycad plants. Use the bottom of the egg cartons to make the base of a cycad. Each cardboard egg holder can be cut out and painted brown. The flat base makes an ideal top for gluing your green fern fronds.
Cheap bushes – Add more vegetation
You can make small bushes by cutting pieces of kitchen sponge (often these sponges are green, which is very handy). Use a new sponge, the inexpensive ones work as well as the expensive brands and cut out any irregular lumps. Glue them with glue around your model. Toy stores that sell miniature railroad props can provide bags of dyed lichen and moss that can also be used to “green” your dinosaur play mat.
A rockery pattern for your dinosaur play mat
Take some pebbles from the garden, give them a good wash, and build your own rock garden model. We have found that smooth rollers are the best to use. We bought some from a local florist, as well as plastic slings and a florist oasis so we could hold a few twigs and fir fronds in our landscape. Glue the pebbles with strong glue or duct tape and place the pieces of sponge among them to create a rocky landscape.
Some dinosaurs are said to have sunk on rocks like these or used them as vantage points so they could search for prey.
Now the trees
If you could have taken a late Cretaceous walk in North America for example, you would have been surprised at how familiar the vegetation was. You would have seen oaks, maples, poplars and many other types of “modern” trees. Model trees bought from a toy store, especially evergreens, work well in your dinosaur landscape, but you can make your own and it’s more fun.
Tree ferns would make an excellent accompaniment to cycads, these plants were common in the reptile age and very easy to make. Lay three sheets of thin green card stock on top of each other, then roll them up tightly, using the short side to make a tube. Tape in the middle to secure your tube. With a pair of scissors, carefully cut one end of the roll or tube into strips, about six inches high. Then, taking care, twist and pull that end up to lengthen the tree. The bands will gradually roll up to form the foliage of the tree. Make a base for the tree to stand on using a piece of colored cardboard, weigh the base with sticky tape or a coin so that the tree will stand. Make trees of different sizes and use cards of different colors to make a grove and place them around the edges and towards the back of your model (bigger trees in the back), to create the impression of a glade in the forest.
The background – Complete the scene
Add a backdrop to your dinosaur play mat. Using a large piece of white cardboard, have the children draw or paint a background for your model. Don’t forget to draw in some distant volcanoes, a prehistoric scene is not complete without a view of the volcanoes!
Build a dinosaur nest!
Taking the lid from a washed jam jar or other kitchen jar, cover it with a thin layer of papier-mâché to get a rough dish shape, then line it with sheets of paper, or even small pieces of a garden fir (washed and dried). You now have a dinosaur nest to place in your diorama, simply glue the base to your model using duct tape. To make dinosaur eggs, take pieces of white paper or crepe paper and roll them into balls to create small dinosaur eggs for your dinosaur nest. Scientists believe all dinosaurs laid eggs, so having a nest in your play scene is completely authentic.
The final touches
Finally the final touch to complete your prehistoric scene. Using a black marker, you can add details to your model. No more tufts of vegetation, even grass as some types of grass evolved in the Cretaceous. Perhaps you could draw a set of three finger dinosaur footprints forming a track through your playset. Now all you have to do is add your dinosaur models and toys and your toys. toddlers will have a fun and inexpensive play mat to create their own dinosaur adventures.