Brushing teeth can be such a battle, with children clenching their jaws shut in protest and parents unsure how to peacefully and respectfully ensure that their children’s dental health is taken care of.
By approaching teeth brushing with a fun twist, you can overcome children’s fears or objections, so as part of our Toddler Dinosaur Unit Study, I set up this fun dinosaur scrubbing activity!
We did this scrubbing dinosaurs activity after our dinosaurs got a little dirty in our sand play dough and dinosaur bath bombs. This was great, because there were little bits of play dough or baking soda in the crevices of the dinosaur miniatures, so the children would see the importance of scrubbing thoroughly and getting all of the parts of the dinosaur clean.
- Dinosaur figurine
- Soap dispenser (we used a glass jar and eyedropper)
- Two small bowls of water
- Kitchen tray
I like to provide a heavy-duty plastic kitchen tray for messy activities, as it encourages the children to work within a defined area (a central Montessori principle) and also makes clean-up much easier.
I had the children scrub the dinosaurs in the same order that we scrubbed our pumpkins, which also echoes the way that you would scrub your teeth – albeit not with soap!
How to Scrub Dinosaurs
The children added soap either to their first water bowl or the toothbrush, placed the dinosaur into the water, and then started scrubbing.
We discussed and observed any stubborn bits of play dough, and worked hard to ensure that our dinosaurs were scrubbed clean. This was fun for the kids, and also worked the same fine motor muscles and practiced the same movements that the children would need for learning how to brush their teeth.
Next we dipped our dinosaurs into the water to clean off the soap bubbles (some of the children dipped their toothbrushes in the water), and then checked again for any remaining play dough, before drying our dinosaurs with the provided cloths.
Of course, once our dinosaurs were scrubbed clean and dried, we had to engage in some dinosaur pretend play! I tried to convince the children that modern scientists believe that dinosaurs screeched or made loud moaning sounds, but they all thought I was crazy and proceeded to ROAR for their dinosaur noises.
You could easily take this opportunity to engage the children in a conversation about what else their dinosaur-cleaning toothbrush might be used for, but for me, I was happy that the children had a positive “toothbrush scrubbing” experience – even if it was with dinosaurs and not teeth. I think this will lay the foundation for later making our conversations around teeth brushing a little easier and we’ll have a positive experience to draw from. I might even refer to their teeth as “dinosaurs” and ask if they scrubbed all of the play dough (plaque) off of their dinosaurs.
Check out the rest of our Toddler Dinosaur Activities, and be sure to check out these other fun Montessori Biology posts from my fellow Montessori bloggers: