How to Build a Dino Terrarium

How to Make a Dinosaur Terrarium

While you can’t time travel back to the age of the dinosaurs, you can bring a little bit of the Jurassic era to your home. A terrarium filled with tropical plants is the perfect setting in which to keep a dinosaur. Your kiddo will love tackling this project from Katie Elzer Peters’s book Miniature Gardens.


  • Preserved reindeer moss
  • Polished stones
  • Ceramic animal figurines
  • Handmade ceramic sculptures
  • Plastic or resin mushrooms
  • Plastic decorative swirl picks

A container that looks large when not filled with plants and soil turns tiny when “planted”. Look for accessories, including animal figurines that are less than 2 inches long for larger terrariums and ½ to 1 inch long for smaller terrariums. This container in the picture is a clear candy jar from the craft store (8 inches tall and 7 inches in diameter.)

Where the Dinosaurs Roam Terrarium Step by Step

1. Fill the bottom of the container with ½ to 1 inch of rocks.
2. Pour activated charcoal on top of the rocks until the rocks are barely covered by the charcoal.
3. Add the potting mix on top of the charcoal. Start with 1 inch of potting mix. This doesn’t seem like much, but it is easier to start with a little, than it is to add more potting mix and dig holes.
4. Place the plants. If you’re using accessories, such as the dinosaur, you can set them in among the plants to gauge the effect see if you want to move the plants around prior to planting.
5. Remove plants from pots and plant them. The bottom of the plant rootballs can be touching the rocks. Use a spoon to fill in with soil around the plants.
6. Add decorative mulches such as preserved reindeer moss or tumbled stones.
8. Water the terrarium. This is the trickiest step. It’s easy to overwater and then difficult to get the terrarium to dry out. Start by watering so that the top inch of soil (which might, in this case, be all of the soil) is about as damp as a wrung-out sponge. You can always add water.
9. Place the cover on the terrarium, set it in bright indirect light, and enjoy.
7. Position the accessories.
Care and Maintenance

Enclosed terrariums have to get some light so that the plants can photosynthesize, grow, and keep the water cycle going. Otherwise the plants will rot. You’ll know if the terrarium is getting enough light when you can see some water droplets (condensation) on the inside of the glass. If the plants start to rot or become mushy, the terrarium is too wet. Open the cover and let it dry out for a week or so. It could take a while to find the right balance of water for the system to reach equilibrium.


  1. Aww, that is adorable. My two boys would LOVE it if I made one of these for our coffee table!!

    • I am thinking of making a bigger one in a long glass vase than can be changed around easily. I can see it being a huge hit with my twins!

  2. Such a cute idea – love doing activities with my boys that allow them to learn about the world around them.

  3. What a great project for the kids (and me too!) Can you believe I don’t think I’ve ever built a terrarium! i need to introduce this to my kids!

  4. This is such a cute project and it really teaches the kids a lot about science and nature.

  5. Adorable! I actually made a zen garden a few months ago…it was so much fun! It’s similar but it has a lots of sand (both beach sand and colored), shells, etc. Try that one too- it’s a greta summer project!

  6. Amy Desrosiers says:

    This is such a cute idea for little ones to learn about dinos!

  7. Such a fun idea! I know my kids would love this. Plus when I have guests over it will be something to chat about 🙂 (Kim)

  8. This is something I think my kids would enjoy doing with me. Where can I find that moss you are talking about? Is it alive or what does preserved mean? Just a side note: I am terrible at keeping plants alive so I need all the help I can get! LOL

    • I am horrible at keeping plants alive too! I admit to faking terrariums at times with stuff from craft stores. But the local florist is my go to for live ones. They are great at helping with this stuff and can sell you small amounts of moss, etc perfect for terrariums.

  9. I pinned this already! This is a perfect little project to do with my kids! Thanks!

  10. Many years ago I did a terrarium, but it didn’t work out so well for me…. but back then, I didn’t have all your great tips.

  11. We are going to be doing something similar, I love doing creative things with the kids to get them into planting and taking care of plants. Yours turned out so cute – who does not love dinosaurs.

  12. I have never built a terrarium before, but they always fascinate me. Maybe we’ll make one of these this summer over break. Yours looks lovely!

  13. This is such a cute idea! Makes me want to build one with my girls.

  14. I want to build one for my 6 year old she loves earth science type of stuff.

  15. How cool! My kids were obsessed with dinos when they were little. They would have loved to make this.

  16. What a fun project. I bet my three boys would enjoy making it and displaying it in their room afterward.

  17. That’s a really cute idea! We have little frogs like that but I never thought of putting them in the plants!

  18. My son loved this post he now wants to make a dino house.

  19. I stopped trying to have live plants. lol That is a cute idea for kids to make for mom!

  20. That is SO cute! I homeschool but we haven’t gotten to terrariums, yet. I’m going to pin this to my kids board! It would be so great for a boring day! 🙂

  21. This is a great. I think my son will love this a whole lot

  22. How cute is this! And what a fun project for the littles! Love it!

  23. I have always wanted to make one of these. This would make a great gift for a little one to give to a mother or grandmother on Mother’s Day.

  24. This might be a little too difficult for my son to do with me, but I’m sure he’d love playing with one. He loved dinosaurs and would love putting them in their homes every day.

  25. This is very cute! I love miniature things and gardening. The two together is just perfect.

  26. Fabulous Perks says:

    This is an amazing project! I would love to try this with the kiddo. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Cute! I made a teacup terrarium with a cute succulent & decorated as well 🙂

  28. kristen says:

    Cute!! My son would love this! Dinosaur train is his favorite show!

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