This week we have been doing lots of dinosaur activities! T was given a lovely set of dinosaurs for Christmas and often gets them out to play with them. Since she enjoys playing with them so frequently I thought we’d make the most of it and have a dinosaur themed week!
1. Small World Play
The first activity we did was to make a dinosaur land together. Providing a ‘small world’ like this, rather than just the toys on their own, really enhances the play and learning opportunities for children. It sparks creativity by helping them to imagine and develop storylines, which in turn help to build on language and storytelling skills. It develops their understanding of their world around them as they have the opportunity to explore how dinosaurs might have behaved in an environment. The chickpeas offer opportunities for sensory play, which allow children the chance to explore, experiment and discover.
T helped me to put it together and we had a lot of fun! It required a little more forethought than last weeks Gingerbread Man small world but was still fairly simple! T got straight to work feeding chickpeas to the crocodile. (I’m not sure a crocodile really counts as a dinosaur, but I’m going to assume something very like a crocodile existed in prehistoric times. They look like dinosaurs, anyway!) At one point, she was yelling “‘Guanadon! Come back!” into the crocodile’s mouth. Either she has picked up the word ‘Iguanadon’ from the book Imagine by Alison Lester (one of our new favourite authors, and this in particular is an awesome book!) or it is from Andy’s Dinosaur adventures on CBeebies. I’m going to go ahead and assume it was due to my unforgettable reading of Imagine…but probably more likely the latter, lets be honest. T really enjoyed playing with this small world, and came back to it several times over the course of the week.
I’d really recommend the dinosaur set we have, which T was given for Christmas. They’re such lovely toys: well made, good detail, and they have a soft, rubbery feel which is nicer than a lot of the plastic toys. They are also a really good price! She also got the safari set for her second birthday. We love them!
2. Footprints in Dough
On Wednesday morning we made salt dough (you can find our recipe here). We just played with it for a while as we would with playdough. I gave T a few of her dinosaurs to play with along with the dough. I just loved the storytelling that was taking place while she played with the dough! The dinosaurs got stuck in the dough; it was used as an adhesive for rescue operations; and they made “handprints” in the dough.
3. Make Dinosaur Bones
Once we’d played a bit with the dough, I made some ‘dinosaur bones’ (an idea from The Imagination Tree’s Digging for Dinosaur Bones Maths Game) and helped T to make fossils as well by using her dinosaurs to make impressions in the dough. Once these were made we put them in the oven on a low heat for a few hours to dry. While T napped that afternoon, I nipped out in to the garden and buried the bones and fossils in some soil. When she woke up she loved hunting for the dinosaurs and digging up the bones! We used a paintbrush to brush the mud off the bones and fossils and added them to her small world. We had also made a few salt dough dino eggs so we added those as well as a nest which I found in ASDA’s Easter display. It turns out leaving salt dough in damp soil for a while does make it a bit soft again – obvious when you think about it, as I clearly did not! It didn’t ruin them, but they were a bit bendy. They soon hardened up again once they’d been dug up!
4. A Dinosaur Hunt
When I buried the bones, I also spent some time hiding a few of her dinosaurs. They were in pretty obvious places but then again, she’s only two! T loved looking around the garden trying to find the dinosaurs. You could extend this activity for older children in a number of ways:
- Hide them in harder to discover places and tell the child if they are getting ‘warm or cold’ (near or far), to develop their listening skills.
- Give them some clues to help them find the location.
- Tell them how many dinosaurs they have to find, so they can self-check and practise their counting skills.
- For early readers, give them some simple written clues to help them practise their reading – this could be as simple as a single word (e.g. ‘shed’) for those just starting to read, or you could use sentences for more advanced readers.
Reading some relevant stories is something I’d be sure to include in any theme I used for play. We took a trip to the library this week and got out some new books including some dinosaur themed titles! We are lucky enough to have a library at the end of our road, so we go there all the time! It means we regularly get fresh reading material and makes reading together so much fun. Much better than having to read the same book five nights in a row! These were some of our favourites:
Tyrannosaurus Drip is a really fun, rhyming story about a ‘duck-billed dinosaur’ who accidentally ended up in the nest of a Tyrannosaurus! It’s kind of a modern twist on The Ugly Duckling.
Dinosaurs Love Underpants is also really fun tale of how the dinosaurs became extinct.
Dinosaurs and all that rubbish is probably a bit better for older children to be honest – it’s a dino-themed story about the importance of looking after our planet! Quite a sweet story though.
She also loved Harry and the bucketful of dinosaurs, which I left out of the picture. A friend recommended this one and T loves it!
Finally, we did some dinosaur themed colouring. We don’t have a printer at the moment so T had to make do with my limited drawing skills! She seemed to enjoy it though! We don’t do ‘colouring in’ an awful lot but it’s great for helping children to develop fine motor control. If you’re not sure your drawing skills are quite up to the task, you can print these Dinosaurs Colouring Sheets from Twinkl.