Invitation to Play: Dinosaur Habitats with Play Dough

Current obsessions... ahem... interests among the preschool & kindergarten set in our house include sharks, dragons, and dinosaurs. We've done habitats at our house before (remember our unicorn habitats?), but because we glued everything down, they were kind of a one-time art project. THIS time, we're using brown play dough as our land, so that we can take them apart and re-make them over and over.



And we have. I put this invitation out a couple of days ago, and the kids have used it every day. Play dough is perfect for this because they can squish it into pretty much any shape they want and it will support all of their different plants, rocks, & dinos, without losing its shape. And everything comes apart easily at the end, so clean up is simple.


They've had lots of fun creating giant jungle worlds for the dinos to live in.


Here's a quick run down of what I gave them to play with. The whole set up cost me $4 (I already had all the play dough ingredients, dinos, and the small rocks and stones from other projects, but you can find everything except cream of tartar at the dollar store) and everything in it can be used for other art and play. First, I made a batch of brown play dough. I'll leave the recipe at the end of this post, but you can find it pretty much anywhere on Pinterest, because it's pretty common... in fact, we used to make play dough the same way when I was little. I bought two onion grass/butterfly bushes and two floral bouquets at the dollar store and took them all apart. I filled the sections of a muffin tin with all the floral pieces, some small river rocks, a mix of clear/blue/green glass stones, and some small dinosaurs, and set it out on the table with the play dough and some containers to build in. And then I let them have it.


Here's the play dough recipe, in case you'd like to make your own. Or you could just buy a can of brown play dough for like 99 cents.

Easy Play Dough

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. salt
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 TBSP. vegetable oil
  • food coloring in desired colors

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the dough forms a ball around the spoon. Remove from heat and turn dough out of pan onto counter (I usually put a sheet of parchment paper or one of my bamboo cutting boards underneath it). Allow to cool until you can handle it, then knead for a couple of minutes to even out the texture and remove any lumps. Allow to cool completely before play.