Dinosaurs and preschoolers-for some reason, they go together like peanut butter and jelly. Little ones are entranced by the legacy of these prehistoric behemoths, forging connections to the past and realizing for the first time that life has transcended the present, and has gone through many iterations throughout the history of our earth.
My sons are OBSESSED to put it lightly, and a dinosaur theme was requested repeatedly. Dino week was probably the best unit we’ve done so far, and they pretty much never wanted it to end, as all good things do. Here are some highlights of Dino Week:
Dino Counting (printables from Playful Learning, a subscription service for teaching resources)
We used Wikki Stix to form the numbers and used glass pebbles from the dollar store as counters. Monkey 1 is working on counting sequentially from one to twenty with corresponding quantities. Monkey 2 is working on one to five.
We also used the letter formation mats from Playful Learning (not pictured). Monkey 1 practiced tracing the letters and Monkey 2 used letter shapes to form the letters.
Target had these cute dinosaur kraft paper figures, which the boys had a blast painting to make their own “toys.”
Dino Fizzy Eggs
I used the fizzing dough recipe from 150 Screen Free Activities for Kids to mold into dinosaur eggs around little figurines from Dollar Tree. Add some baking soda and voila! The monkeys really enjoyed the sensory experience and discovering the dinosaur babies! A little alchemy is always fun!
AC Moore had these dinosaur excavation kits for a steal at $5! Monkey One uncovered T-Rex (of course) and Monkey Two carefully dug out a diplodocus. Bonus fun putting the bones together after they were all dug out, just like real paleontologists!
Dino Fossil Making
This was simply but mesmerized the boys for an entire afternoon. I made up a batch of play dough, and they used their dinosaur figurines to stamp in the play dough to create different fossils. This could be taken a step further and salt dough could be used instead, then dried either in the oven or left out for a few days and then you could keep your fossil indefinitely! Play dough is always a go-to for sensory and fine motor play here.
Block play and art was also centered around dinosaurs too, mostly because all the excitement carried into any other activities they were doing. We also visited the library and grabbed some more books to read about dinosaurs, as our vast dinosaur book collection is in Vermont and we just couldn’t take them all! A few favorites:
Why Why Why Do Dinosaurs Lay Eggs? by Camilla De La Bedoyere
Prehistoric Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
Some great fictional books that are dinosaur themed are the How Do Dinosaurs series by Jane Yolen, which also teaches young kiddos about taking care of themselves, others, and managing their emotions. There are a bunch of titles with different topics ranging from sleep to being angry and using manners, beautifully illustrated to expose children to these topics in an approachable and fun way.
We ended this unit with a fossil and rock sort, which segued into our next unit (rocks and minerals). I bought a mix of various rock specimens from Dancing Bear. We have a sizeable fossil collection back home but it was another instance of not worth carting cross country for a few months, though it would have been nice for this unit.
Dino Week was a blast! Who knows, maybe we’ll do it again 🙂