Toddler Activities {01} :: Make a Dinosaur Terrarium

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of handing my toddler my iPhone when I need to distract her, like when I’m trying to do chores around the house, when we are out at a restaurant or when I just need a few minutes to unwind. However, I don’t want to create a couch potato or rely on my cell phone as a babysitter, so I

have planned several *fun* toddler-friendly activities to limit screen time and encourage learning, exploration and sensory play.

Toddlers are curious, eager-to-please and love to use their hands to create things. I love watching Riley get excited about doing a craft, and I also love that it keeps her busy so she’s not making a mess in the house when left to entertain herself (i.e. grabbing the stool to reach on top of the dresser and push all the contents onto the floor, or unravel the entire roll of bathroom tissue paper, like a cat. #truestory, here).

I enjoy keeping succulents around the house (remember this post?). They come in many different colors, shapes and sizes and are easy to maintain. So for our first toddler activity, I decided to use the dinosaurs Riley had lying around her room to make a new terrarium. Plus, we needed a new centerpiece for our dining table. ;-)

Here’s what you’ll need to build your own Dinosaur Terrarium…


++ Glass Vase

++ Preserved Moss

++ Cactus Palm Potting Mix Soil

++ Succulents

++ Rocks

++ Plastic dinosaurs, or other animals

Step 1: Line the bottom of the vase with rocks. This will allow the water to drain from the soil so it does not get oversaturated.

Step 2: Scoop a layer of soil on top of the rocks. No need to level it.

Step 3: Remove each succulent from its plastic pot and place it into the vase with soil. Arrange the taller plants in the back and the shorter ones in front.

Step 4: Once all the succulents are placed in the soil, arrange the moss around it. We put the moss on either side of the plants and filled the remaining space with rocks.

Step 5: Now it’s time to water your terrarium. Slowly pour water into the vase and let the water soak into the soil so it is damp, but not soaked. Less is more in this case, since succulents are cacti and don’t need a lot of water to survive. Wait until the soil has completely dried out before watering it again.

Step 6: Finally, the last step is to add the dinosaurs. Riley had fun placing them in different positions – pretending they were smelling the moss, walking across the rocks and eating the plants.

According to Riley, a dinosaur says, “RAAAWWWWWWRRRRR!”

I’m so proud of my little assistant and love how our terrarium turned out! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Will you try it with your little ones?

Check back for our next toddler activity. (Hint: I promise it will be colorful!)

Photos by Zha Zha Liang

This craft is also featured on Ruffles & Rain Boots.


  1. Angelic Sinova April 23, 2015

    This Dinosaur Terrarium is ADORABLE! I love terrariums (they really bring a space to life!) The dinosaurs give off such a great pop of color <3

  2. Julie (xfallenmoon) April 23, 2015

    Super awesome idea. I bet my son would love to do this, and I have a whole bunch of baby succulents growing. I might give this a shot. Thanks! :D

  3. Karen Patten April 23, 2015

    I’m not crafty – but I am garden-y. So this looks wonderful!!!! I will definitely try this with my boys this summer!

  4. amy April 23, 2015

    That’s a cute idea, I have lots of bigger plastic bottles saves up for something. I said I was going to build myself a raft lol, but I wonder if we could use them to make terrariums like these. Besides there’s not much water in Texas for rafting :)

  5. Breanna April 24, 2015

    Oh my gosh! That is all kinds of adorable! :) Love the little dinosaurs! This is so fun – my son would love it!

  6. NYC Single Mom April 24, 2015

    How cute of an idea and getting our daughter involved in building the terrarium is a brilliant idea. I wish I had the window to do this.

  7. Fi Ní Neachtáin April 24, 2015

    This is such a lovely activity to do with little ones. I’d love to do something like this with my son, I think he’d enjoy it :)

  8. Carra D April 24, 2015

    I really love this idea to involve the kids by adding the dinosaurs and having them help. Thanks for sharing

  9. Reginia Cordell April 24, 2015

    My niece and nephews would love this cute idea! They’re love to play with little dinosaurs, your kid looks really enjoyed and happy to this idea.

  10. Trisha Haas April 24, 2015

    This looks like a fun activity. I’m sure my kids would enjoy doing this too. The dinosaurs is a great touch.

  11. Sam Sly April 24, 2015

    Wow! I love that. It makes a wonderful decoration for a child’s room. And it is a very fun and creative activity. How cool is that?

  12. CourtneyLynne April 24, 2015

    Omg this is the cutest thing ever!!! My daughter just discovered dinosaurs afew weeks ago. I so need to make one of these with her! She would love it :)

  13. Liz Mays April 24, 2015

    That is so much fun with the dinos in there. What a terrific idea, and super good looking with the succulents.

  14. Joanne T Ferguson April 24, 2015

    What a great idea that appeals to kids of all ages! Thanks for sharing and brightening my day!

  15. Penny Struebig April 25, 2015

    Love this idea. How fun would this be to do at a dinosaur birthday party and let them take home their work as a party favor!

  16. Ave Hla April 25, 2015

    I really love the terrarium idea and the outcome is absolutely fantastic! Seems that I have to go succulent shopping too. I’m sure my daughter would love to have a cute terrarium for her animals too.

  17. Franc Ramon April 25, 2015

    The mini dinosaur park would really be something they would enjoy. They also get to learn a lot and be crafty at this.

  18. Oh wow, how cool is that! I showed these pictures to my toddler son and he was just so excited :)

  19. Rosey April 26, 2015

    The little dinos are a fun touch. I like the look of succulents, they seem clean to me, which I like.

  20. Sarah Nenni Daher April 30, 2015

    What a fun idea! I’ve chosen this great dinosaur terrarium kid’s craft as my feature for this week’s Thank Goodness It’s Thursday link party. I can’t wait to see what you share this week, Chanelle.

    • Chanelle April 30, 2015

      Thank you for the feature, Sarah! I hope others are inspired to do this craft with their little ones. :)

  21. Too cute! My toddler would absolutely love this… I’ll have to be on the lookout for some terrarium supplies :)

    Thanks for sharing at #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup …I’ve pinned this post and hope you stop by again to link up again for this upcoming week!

  22. ECho May 8, 2015

    This is such an awesome idea! My kids would love it! Thank you so much for sharing!

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