Lately LittleMan has been really into studying Barnum Brown, the paleontologist who first unearthed tyrannosaurus. I wanted a way to bring history to life for him, outside of books and documentaries, so I thought it would be fun to build a diorama. While doing a bit of pre-project research, I found out that Peeps are a really popular diorama staple! LittleMan and I decided to take it a step further and make our diorama almost entirely out of edible items.
There are so many ways you can use Peeps, skip to the bottom of this post if you want my top tips for using Peeps with success. Otherwise, check out these photos for a tutorial on our edible Barnum Brown diorama.
Just put the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second increments, stirring well, and stopping as soon as the chocolate is fully melted.
Once you’ve got melted chocolate, pour it into your molds. Put those in the freezer to set for 20-60 minutes to set.
As soon as the molds are set, you’re ready to move on. Pop the chocolate fossils out and arrange them in your bin where you’re going to build your diorama. For dirt, layer dark brown sugar and light brown sugar over top and around the chocolate.
Now is when you get to play paleontologist. Get out a new (or at least clean) paint brush and start clearing off the dirt from the fossil. Go slow and make gentle brush strokes, you don’t want to break anything or shift the bones around under the dirt.
You might want to add a nest of dinosaur eggs near by, in which case you’ll need some chocolate frosting.
Just make a little hole for the nest to settle in and line it with a bit of chocolate frosting.
For eggs, you can’t go wrong with Robin’s Eggs candy.
You’ll probably want to sprinkle a bit of the brown sugar over the nest but not too much.
Once the dinosaur fossil has been unearthed a bit, you might want to call in a professional to help you from here on out. To do that you’ll need a bit of scrap cloth (or paper if no cloth is available), scissors, straight pins, and a marshmallow Peep.
Cut the cloth to sort of resemble a man’s jacket and collar, push a straight pin through on each side of the jacket to hold it in place against the Peep. Viola! Barnum Brown expert dinosaur hunter is here to assist you in your work.
But wait, Barnum Brown always brings his wife along to help on his digs.
To make her you’ll need another scrap of fabric, cut into a rectangle, another straight pin, and another Peep. Simply wrap the fabric around the Peep and pin it in the back to create a dress. Viola! Mrs. Lillian Brown.
Add as many workers as you like, and when you’re done you have diorama/edible sensory bin/small world play station that should keep your child engaged and reviewing what they have learned for hours to come.
Tips and Tricks when working with Peeps:
– buy the Peeps a week ahead of time, take them out of the package and put them somewhere to set until you’re ready to use them, do this because they are sticky fresh out of the package but a stale Peep is easier to manipulate
– if you’re going to have your Peeps on a flat surface then use a wet knife to cut the bottom curve off of them so they will stand straight, the water will make it easier to cut through the marshmallow without it sticking (we didn’t do this step because we had the brown sugar underneath to help prop the Peeps up)
– GET CREATIVE! There are no limits with this project. We decided to go the edible route but you can use cardboard, plastic, fabric, paper- whatever you have on hand! And while we did a paleontological dig, you could do just about anything your heart desires. Studying ancient Egypt? Mummify a Peep, build a diorama of pharaoh’s tomb. Studying the civil war? Have the pink Peeps and the blue Peeps on the battlefield of Gettysburg, make a Peep Abraham Lincoln. What about a Peep moon landing? Have some fun with it!