Dinosaur movie night: DIY movie set

Cardboard, tape, spray paint, imagination – and a little glow-in-the-dark paint.

It was more fun building our set than actually watching the movie! This can easily be simplified or scaled down for some indoor winter fun too.



  • Cardboard (lots and lots!)
  • Scissors/knife
  • Zipties (yes, they were useful)
  • Tape (duct)
  • Spray paint (some textured and some glossy)
  • Glow-in-the-dark paint (this stuff worked really well)
  • String, sticks and stakes, tissue paper

Making the Dinosaurs

We encourage free-hand drawing as it helps develop spatial skills, dexterity, observation and connects our hands to our minds.

A tip: you can use a projector to project the image of a dinosaur onto the cardboard and trace it out if you prefer.

We were just having fun, so we didn’t fuss over proportions and sizing. Once they were cut out, we spray-painted them and then painted a few glow-in-the-dark features (tip for this in a later section below). As you can see in the photos, some of the pieces are taped together. Not exactly professional grade work here, but loads of fun.

The Jeeps

For the jeep, we opened up boxes and flattened them, laying them out in the approximate shape of the vehicle. After taping it together using copious amounts of duct tape, we spray painted it similarly to the jeep that was in the movie. The tires were made separately and glued on after.

The second jeep was just a box large enough to fit into, spray painted, and we added a piece to go around the neck. This was the jeep that was used to pick up our guests and bring them into the park.

The jeep logo was made by cutting out a piece of cardboard and hand painting the logo.


The Gate

We stacked boxes and taped them (real duct tape held the best), and similar to the movie, we tapered the towers (we put the largest boxes at the bottom and then added smaller and smaller ones going up to the top). Some boxes we had to cut to size a little. This way there was a little more strength to the gate. The lights were made of halved egg cartons and some tissue paper.

For the sign, we cut the letters out of cardboard and painted them, then glued them to a large flat piece of cardboard we pieced together before.

The doors, as you can see, were masterfully crafted from taped together pieces of large cardboard.

We found it was easier to spray paint everything before assembling it all together.

Tip: We assembled the doors to the sides of the gate with some tape and by looping zip ties: one at the top, middle and bottom. This helped keep the doors up as the tape just wasn’t strong enough. To keep it upright, we put bricks and rocks in the bottom of the gate inside the empty boxes.

Little Extra Touches

We also made movie ticket stubs for our guests (complete with the portion you rip off, just like at the theatre). The only things we didn’t make ourselves were the park passes (sourced from Etsy) – and we’re keeping those!

Finishing Touches

We attached the dinosaurs to the trees (complete with some leafy vegetation in the brontosaurus mouth).

We taped and tied the jeep to a little table (which we used to put the popcorn and drinks on) and used some wooden garden stakes behind to keep it propped up. We placed it so the jeep would block the view of the screen and chairs.

Then we “picked” up the guests and handed them their passes, “drove” them across the “jungle” (our yard) and into the park through the gate doors (“What’ve they got in there, King Kong?”).

We found an inexpensive projector and movie screen, set up our camping chairs (with blankets), and brought out the popcorn. Let the show begin!


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