How Do You Make a Dinosaur Ecosystem Project?

Updated April 17, 2017

When dinosaurs roamed the Earth 65 million years ago, the Earth was warmer than it is today. Understanding the basic functions of a dinosaur's world can help you create a realistic project. This project will help you replicate the three main ages of dinosaurs, the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods. The size of each model can vary from as small as a shoebox to as large as 18-by-21 inches, the size of a small table. You will need lots of space to work in; however the project can be completed in a day.

Build a landscape for each dinosaur period on each wooden board. Crumple newspaper into various mountainous shapes; tape each shape firmly in place. The Triassic period had very large mountains and the Jurassic period had mid-size mountains. Build a volcano between the mountains for the Cretaceous period.

Mix some plaster of Paris in a bowl with water to make a paste. Follow the measurement directions on the box for the desired consistency. Soak each strip of cloth in the paste.

Place the wet cloth strips over each landscape frame. Completely cover each paper structure as well as the board itself. Use your hands to smooth each strip carefully. Allow at least two hours for drying.

Make your own trees by drawing the leafy part of the tree on the green construction paper; make as many leaves as you like. Cut out the leaves and glue them onto wooden skewers. Let the trees dry for at least an hour.

Make miniature bushes with the dry moss; the bushes should be 1-to-2 inches in height and width. The Triassic period had thin bushes; the Jurassic period had a lot of large plant life. The Cretaceous period had a few normal-size bushes. Set the bushes to the side to glue down later.

Paint each landscape. Create a desert look for the Triassic period; use orange and yellow paint for the landscape. Add a hint of red paint to darken certain areas. Paint the flat part of the landscape blue to add a lake.

Paint the Jurassic landscape with brown and green paint. The Jurassic period had rich brown soil and plenty of grassy areas. Use a little yellow paint to lighten the soil in select areas; use blue paint to add rivers and lakes throughout the entire landscape.

Paint the Cretaceous landscape with brown and yellow paint to create a warm, dry setting. Layer the sides of the volcano with purple and red paint to make it appear as if lava is spewing down the sides. Use black paint for the inside of the volcano and the bottom of the volcano; make it appear as hardened lava.

Stick the model trees into the landscapes. The Triassic period had very few trees because of the desert-like climate. The Jurassic period had a lot of trees; place the trees in clusters away from the volcano on the Cretaceous landscape.

Glue the appropriate bushes to each landscape. Place some additional green moss along the river banks for the Triassic and Jurassic periods.

Place the correct species of dinosaur models on each landscape; different species of dinosaurs lived during each period. Glue the dinosaurs down once you decide where you want to place them.

Touch up the landscapes with paint if necessary. Make sure all the trees and bushes are securely in place. Place the finished projects in a safe dry area until they are ready to be transported.

Let the new paint dry. While your landscapes are drying, write down important facts about each dinosaur period on note cards. No more than one note card per dinosaur ecosystem is needed.


Make sure all paint and glue is dry and each shape and model is secure before moving on to each new step.


Children under 9 should work with adult supervision when handling toxic materials and sharp objects; such as glue and scissors.

Things You'll Need

  • Assorted paints
  • Strips of non-coloured cloth material
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Plastic dinosaur models
  • Old newspapers
  • Green construction paper
  • Dry green moss
  • Wooden barbecue skewers
  • 3 wooden boards
  • 2 boxes of plaster of Paris
  • Scissors
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