5 dinosaur themed activities
Lots of children, at some point or another. tend to develop a fascination for Jurassic creatures- and its not just boys either. There are plenty of ways that you can tap into a child’s interests and lots of opportunities to extend the play for further learning too. Here are five of our favourite ideas for dinosaur themed activities:
1. Dinosaur painting. For this activity, you need lots of plastic dinosaur figures of various shapes and sizes, lots of colourful paint and a large roll of paper/ wall paper.
- You can either give each child their own piece of paper, or simply roll a length onto a long table (or the floor) and let them share. This can be a wonderful opportunity to encourage children to think about their own spaces and that of the child next to them too. Either blob paint straight onto the paper or give the children small pots or palettes, and let them paint.
- Some children will directly paint their dinosaur (which is fine- you can talk about the colours they’re using, what colours they think their dinosaur should be and how they’re changing its appearance by painting it) and some will- perhaps after you’ve shown them- use the dinosaurs as stampers.
- Model ways to use the dinosaurs- choose three different figures, dip their feet into the paint and talk about the different footprints they create. Let the children explore their own dinosaur’s footprints too.
- Play guess the footprint- ask the children to close their eyes then create a trail of footprints with one figure, then ask them to work out with dinosaur did it.
- Use the feet to make marks and patterns on the paper.
2. Go on a dinosaur hunt! This can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. Once again, you need lots of dinosaur figures, some empty plastic egg shells (the type you get at Easter in the pound shop are perfect) and some sticky labels.
- If you want to go slightly elaborate, you can set the scene for your dinosaur hunt a few days early. Plant the empty egg shells in the sand tray and ask the children what they think may have come out of them. Some of the suggestions will inevitably lead to lots of imaginative play!
- Following the empty egg discovery, plant a few dinosaur footprints around and about and ask the children if they know who- or what!- has been making them.
- Finally, hide the dinosaurs, and ask the children to help you find them! This is a wonderful activity for outdoor play and one that gets those interested in dinosaurs charging around.
- You can extend this activity by sticking labels on the dinosaurs and either numbering them one to ten (can the children help you order them correctly once they’ve all been found?) or you can pop letters on the stickers and ask the children which letter their own name begins with.
- Another extension (which can be done before the hunt) is to bury the eggs deeper in the sand and pop magnetic letters or numbers inside. What letter have you found? What number is that? Or simply pop coloured blocks inside- what colour do you have? Can we make a pattern with our blocks?
3. Make dinosaur feet. This is a wonderful activity, found over at Play Dr. Mom. All you need is empty cereal boxes or tissue boxes (as long as the children can get their feet inside!), scissors, glue and paint.
- Ask the children to describe how dinosaur feet are different from their own. Take their socks off to check! How many toes do we have? Do dinosaurs have toes? Ask the children to tell you what is the same and what is different about their feet.
- Help the children to use scissors to cut out dinosaur claws, and stick them onto the boxes.
- Let the children paint the boxes.
- Voila! The children can use the dinosaur feet in role play activities or for a few dinosaur dances! There are some wonderful songs here that can be downloaded and enjoyed over and over, and some here that you can learn as a group too.
4. Make a dinosaur land. You can use either the sand tray, or the Tuff Spot. There are various different materials you can use for the earth in your dinosaur land- some of the options include:
- Sand/ moon sand. To make moon sand, simply mix one bag of plain flour with a 300ml of baby oil and rub together. Before mixing, add a few drops of food colouring to add colour if you want to. Moon sand is a wonderful alternative to sand as it allows you to mould and smells lovely too, but do make sure nobody has any allergies to the ingredients.
- Soil. This will need to be clean (straight from the bag) but is a great opportunity for the children to get stuck in to real mud and a very lifelike terrain for dinosaurs!
- Dried cereal. Use a mixture of shreddies, cornflakes and rice crispies for a dinosaur land with a difference! The children will love stomping the beasts and crushing the floor!
- Rainbow rice. This is another wonderful sensory material- simply pop some plain uncooked rice into a ziplock bag, add a few drops of food colouring, close the bag and massage well. Allow to dry over night and then simply tip into the sand tray or Tuff Spot.
- Shaving foam. Another wonderful sensory material, but again check for allergies.
5. Imaginative play. Sometimes the best activities are the most simple. Set up your dinosaur land, or your dig (bury the dinosaurs in the sand and just let them discover them) and then let them play. You’ll notice that some children will begin to roar a lot and some will use the figures to make up stories and imaginary situations. Either is fine- free play is one of the best gifts we can give our children after all!
We hope you enjoy some of these ideas- do let us know if you try any at all!
Tags: creative play, dinosaurs, imaginative play, learning through play, sensory play