Make a dinosaur small world in a suitcase! This craft has been designed as a DIY toy for an adult to make for a child, although older kids could make a version of it too.

The finished dinosaur small world makes a cool handmade gift idea which is perfect for dinosaur-loving kids.

Putting the small world in a suitcase keeps the toy mess contained, and it’s perfect for travelling (like long car trips), or when you have to take your kid somewhere where there is a lot of waiting time like the doctors. (I know, that’s what iphones are for, haha, but sometimes it’s nice NOT to be so reliant on technology for kids entertainment).

You might also like our paper pterodactyl puppet

Dinosaur small world in a suitcase DIY toy idea for kids

There is something about dinosaurs. They were such incredible creatures that the very thought of them is enough to spark anybody’s imagination. So enormous, so deadly and so different to anything at all on earth today!

That might be why they are so popular with kids, including my own girls. I decided to make them a dinosaur small world in a suitcase for play, and I have to say I enjoyed creating this world at least as much as they will love playing with it.

Would you like to take a look inside?

Dinosaur small world in a suitcase. THis is an awesome DIY toy, perfect for travelling and playing on the go. It's a great way to encourage imaginary play and makes an awesome handmade gift #handmadegift #diytoy #dinosaurs #smallworld #suitcasecraft #kidsactivities #imaginaryplay #playmatters #thecrafttrain


If you’d like to create a dinosaur world like ours this is a brief run-down of how I made it. You can be as creative as you like when making one of these though, so don’t feel restricted to the way I’ve done mine.

Because this is a craft I created late at night as a one-off (it was pretty unplanned), there is no template. Plus, the imaginary world needs to be created to suit whatever suitcase you are using, and they are all slightly different in size and shape.

I just happened to have a paper mache suitcase which I’d purchased on sale at our local craft store, and wanted to put it to good use. If you just want to make a quick small world without the bother of needing to paint the suitcase you can also get a set that don’t need to be decorated.

How to make a dinosaur small world in a suitcase

You will need

  • A papier mache suitcase, or alternatively find an old toy suitcase you are happy to repurpose.
  • Good quality acrylic paints
  • Felt pieces in assorted colours
  • Sparkly glitter foam in blue
  • Fabric glue
  • Small plastic dinosaurs. I purchased a tube of them from Kmart which look similar to this set here
  • Mod podge or similar paint sealer
  • Needle and thread
  • Lead pencil, paper and scissors
  • A small amount of air dry modelling clay for the dinosaur eggs, I’ve used the super light kind

How To

  1. To begin with you’ll need to design the inside of your small world. To do this press a sheet of blank paper into the inside base and inside lid, and cut the paper panels to fit the space exactly. I also cut panels of paper to fit the inside back (where the suitcase is joined) where I wanted to add the cliff and waterfall details
  2. Sketch a simple outline for the landscape of the small world using lead pencil and use this as a template for your felt pieces. Use double sided tape to stick the paper to the felt and cut along the sketched lines, this will give you felt shapes to exactly fit the inside of your suitcase. Do the same with the blue glitter foam for your waterway.
  3. Cut out extra felt details to decorate the world like trees and clouds.
  4. Paint your suitcase. Using a papier mache suitcase required two coats of the same colour of paint, and the yellow spots on top of the green also required two coats of paint for each spot. If you are repurposing an old toy suitcase you’ll probably also need to paint it white first to cover up the existing design (unless you are happy with that one and want to keep it as is).
  5. Paint the inside edges of your suitcase which are not going to be covered in felt.
  6. Once the paint is completely dry add a coat of mod podge to make it a bit more strong and durable.
  7. Glue the felt and glitter foam pieces in using fabric glue.
  8. Optionally, you can make a nest for the dinosaurs’ eggs. I cut a shape like the one pictured on the bottom right in the collaged image and sewed the seams together, then sewed a second shape exactly the same in a different shade of brown to the bottom of it to make our nest. You could more easily make one from modelling clay though. I made the dinosaur eggs in our nest using orange blu-tack (sticky tack), mainly because I couldn’t find the modelling clay – although I know it is in the craft cupboard somewhere!
  9. Make a “Roar” speech bubble for the front of the suitcase by sketching the letters and bubble shape onto paper, then sticking them to felt with double sided tape and cutting them out. The easiest way to cut out the individual letters is with a sharp craft knife and cutting mat. Glue it in place with fabric glue.
  10. •Add plastic dinosaurs and viola!

How to make a dinosaur small world in a suitcase

Mother dinosaur guarding her nest in our dinosaur small world in a suitcase

Your dinosaur small world is now ready for play!

This is one small world I don’t actually feel like moving into, but it sure makes for fun and interesting games.

Dinosaur small world in a suitcase

Dinosaur small world in a suitcase

Make a dinosaur small world in a suitcase to encourage imaginary play

Materials

  • A papier mache suitcase, or alternatively find an old toy suitcase you are happy to repurpose.
  • Good quality acrylic paints
  • Felt pieces in assorted colours
  • Sparkly glitter foam in blue
  • Fabric glue
  • Small plastic dinosaurs
  • Mod podge or similar paint sealer
  • Paper
  • A small amount of air dry modelling clay for the dinosaur eggs, I’ve used the super light kind

Tools

  • Needle and thread
  • lead pencil
  • scissors
  • paint brush

Instructions

  1. To begin with you’ll need to design the inside of your small world. To do this press a sheet of blank paper into the inside base and inside lid, and cut the paper panels to fit the space exactly. I also cut panels of paper to fit the inside back (where the suitcase is joined) where I wanted to add the cliff and waterfall details
  1. Sketch a simple outline for the landscape of the small world using lead pencil and use this as a template for your felt pieces. Use double sided tape to stick the paper to the felt and cut along the sketched lines, this will give you felt shapes to exactly fit the inside of your suitcase. Do the same with the blue glitter foam for your waterway.
  2. Cut out extra felt details to decorate the world like trees and clouds.
  3. Paint your suitcase. Using a papier mache suitcase required two coats of the same colour of paint, and the yellow spots on top of the green also required two coats of paint for each spot. If you are repurposing an old toy suitcase you’ll probably also need to paint it white first to cover up the existing design (unless you are happy with that one and want to keep it as is).
  4. Paint the inside edges of your suitcase which are not going to be covered in felt.
  5. Once the paint is completely dry add a coat of mod podge to make it a bit more strong and durable.
  6. Glue the felt and glitter foam pieces in using fabric glue.
  7. Optionally, you can make a nest for the dinosaurs’ eggs. I cut a shape like the one pictured on the bottom right in the collaged image and sewed the seams together, then sewed a second shape exactly the same in a different shade of brown to the bottom of it to make our nest. You could more easily make one from modelling clay though. I made the dinosaur eggs in our nest using orange blu-tack (sticky tack), mainly because I couldn’t find the modelling clay – although I know it is in the craft cupboard somewhere!
  8. Make a “Roar” speech bubble for the front of the suitcase by sketching the letters and bubble shape onto paper, then sticking them to felt with double sided tape and cutting them out. The easiest way to cut out the individual letters is with a sharp craft knife and cutting mat. Glue it in place with fabric glue.
  9. Add plastic dinosaurs and viola!

Notes

Be as creative as you like with the design of your small world!

More fun dinosaur crafts

  • Create some cool toilet roll dinosaurs
  • Make a fun pterodactyl paper puppet using our printable template
  • These sparkly paper plate dinosaurs have long been one of our most popular posts
  • The kids will LOVE playing with dinosaurs in sticky mud – especially if it smells like chocolate!
  • Dinosaurs in Rainbow jelly is lots of messy fun too
  • Design your own Dinosaur board game using a cereal box as a base

How to make a dinosaur small world in a suitcase. This is a great DIY toy to spark imaginary play and can be useful for long car trips or playing on the go #dinosaur #kidscraft #smallworld #handmadegifts #diytoys #suitcasecrafts #imaginaryplay