Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fun with Dinosaurs!

What's on our shelves?

M has been asking a ton of questions about dinosaurs lately. It all started on a long car ride home from Florida a couple of weeks ago. We heard a train pass by, which reminded her of the show Dinosaur Train. She laughed and said that was probably not a train for dinosaurs, to which I responded, "Probably not... especially since dinosaurs are extinct." Confused, she asked, "Why are the dinosaurs stinky?" And that's where the dinosaur obsession began.

Since that conversation, we have discussed various theories for why the dinosaurs went extinct, looked at pictures of many different types of dinosaurs, checked out a dozen dinosaur books from the library, and played lots of dinosaur games.

Here's what we've been up to:


Practical Life

Carrying Dinosaur Eggs
This idea came from Oh! The Things You'll Know. I put a masking tape line across the floor as a "balance beam" for M to walk across while carefully carrying the dinosaur eggs on a large spoon. She wasn't very excited about carrying the eggs, but had a lot of fun finding different ways to walk, run, and jump back and forth across the masking tape line.

Dinosaur Lacing Cards

M had so much fun with the lacing cards I gave her last week, so I made some dinosaur themed cards. These are simple clip art images that I drew shapes around in Microsoft Word. I laminated the shapes and punched holes around the perimeter.

Dinosaur Bath and Polishing Rocks
These were supposed to be two different activities, but M decided that they should go together. The idea was to use the sponge to give the dinosaur a bath, and to use the scrubber brush and towel to clean and polish the stones.


Instead, after polishing a few stones, M decided that the stones were actually dinosaur eggs, and needed to be protected. She took the large dinosaur figure from the bath tray, and used the sponge as the nest for the "eggs." The mommy dinosaur counted all of her eggs and protected them while she waited for them to hatch. I think her activity was way better than mine!


Matching Dinosaur Footprints
I had a bunch of plastic dinosaur figures, so I decided to take a few and dip their feet in paint to make footprints. I chose four dinosaurs that would make different footprint patterns. I used white paint to make footprints across the black construction paper. M can try to match the correct dinosaur with its footprints.

Sorting Dinosaurs
3Dinosaurs has an awesome set of free printables with a little bit of everything. These size sorting dinosaurs were a hit - she decided that the smallest dinosaurs must be the babies, the medium-sized dinosaurs were the mommies, and the largest dinosaurs were the daddies.

Play-doh Dinosaurs
My mom found some old dinosaur cookie cutters, and I threw in a rolling pin and a play-doh knife. M still has some trouble pressing the dough flat enough to be able to cut the shapes by herself, but she's definitely getting better at it!


Dinosaur Prints
This was not a success (yet), but I thought it was such a fun idea that I would include it anyway. I attempted to do the Dinosaur Print Painting activity from Montessori Mama, but I couldn't find the thin styrofoam she was talking about. I decided to try using floral foam, but it was way too textured and the paint just seeped into the crannies when I tried it myself. I'm going to try this again if I can find some better materials.

Dinosaur Sensory Bin
This sensory bin was so much fun!! Little Bins for Little Hands did a similar sensory bin, but I decided to fill the bin with potting soil and stones instead of baking soda. I filled a small plastic bottle with warm water, then dropped a small plastic shot glass filled with baking soda into the container. At first I gave M a pipette to add drops of vinegar, but it wasn't enough of a reaction. I poured about a quarter of a cup of vinegar at a time into the measuring cup, and let her pour the vinegar into the volcano to make it erupt. She was in love with this, and kept asking to add a little more to do it over and over again. She was a little nervous for the dinosaurs, and asked if they were going to die, so we moved them to a small "island" on the other side of the bin.

After at least 10 volcanic eruptions (and as much vinegar as I was willing to use), we took the whole tray outside for some more exploration. I gave her a divided tray with some cleaning materials, and some tools for digging (shovel, rake, tweezers, and small cups). She dug through the remains to find the dinosaurs and "eggs" (stones) and cleaned some of them. We realized that there was still baking soda in the bottom of the volcano, and that we could use the small cups to scoop some of the liquid from the bin and pour it back into the volcano for mini eruptions.

If it wasn't so hot outside, she probably would have played with this for a very long time. We finally brought it all back inside (after dumping most of the dirt outside), and cleaned up. She finished up by polishing a few of the "dinosaur eggs."


Dinosaur 3-Part Cards
I printed these cards from the 3Dinosaurs Dinosaur Pack. Looking back, I wish I had printed more realistic pictures of the different types of dinosaurs (these are cartoons), but M enjoyed matching the pictures and hearing the names of the dinosaurs. She also tried to match her plastic dinosaur figures with the pictures on the cards (easier said than done!).

Dinosaur Stories
M has a couple of Melissa and Doug sticker books with the reusable cling stickers and multiple background sheets. I pulled out all of the background sheets from the two books, punched holes in the top of the pages, and bound them all together with key rings. She can take the background sheets off the rings if she wants to lay out multiple backgrounds together (one set has rooms in a house, and the other has different landscapes).

She told me stories about the dinosaurs that were living around the lake as she moved the stickers around on the background.

D is for Dinosaur
This D printable is from Confessions of a Homeschooler. M filled in all of the circles with round foam beads. I wish I had printed one with a lower case "d" since we have been working with the lower case alphabet so far.

Dinosaur Books
We went to the library and checked out about a dozen books on dinosaurs and bones. I was impressed by the number of good children's books they had available. We got a nice mix of stories, reference books, and easy readers.



Roll and Count Dinosaurs (Graphing)
This was another printable from the 3Dinosaurs set. M played this several times by herself, and then showed her dad how to play when he got home from work. She liked counting how many times she had rolled each dinosaur, and keeping track of which dinosaur had been rolled the most or least number of times.

Measuring Dinosaurs
I found a couple of larger dinosaur figures at Walmart, so I threw one of the large figures and a couple of her smaller figures on a tray with a ruler to compare the sizes of the dinosaurs. M loves measuring things (she has her own small measuring tape now), but she doesn't really know how to read the ruler yet.

Science / Cultural Studies

Dinosaur Eggs and Fossils
I followed the directions on Projects for Preschoolers to make these dinosaur eggs. I mixed dirt, flour, salt, sand and water to make a kind of dough, and then wrapped the dough around a few of M's small plastic dinosaurs to make an egg shape. These are still hardening on the counter, along with a few "fossils," but I think they will be a big hit.

I plan to hide the eggs around the outside of the house, and let M find and collect them in her gardening bag. Then, I'll give her a tray and shovel to crack open the eggs and "hatch" the dinosaurs.

I pulled the plastic ocean animals out of the dough after it hardened a little, and I will hide those fossils around the house as well (assuming that they seem stable enough to not break). I'll put the figures that I used in a small bin and she can try to match the imprints with the animals.

Check out more fun Montessori ideas at the Montessori Monday Link-up!
Montessori Monday


  1. Thank you for your wonderful ideas! Perfect for our dinosaur theme. Just wanted to let you know that the D is for Dinosaur page is from www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com She has wonderful ideas for preschool as well and I just want to make sure that she gets credit for her work as well.

    1. Thank you! I'll go back and edit that- I tried to find it again and couldn't for some reason. I've seen so many great ideas on that blog- I should have known! I hope you have fun with your own dinosaur activities!