What’s On Our Shelves: Dinosaur Edition
We’re just starting our toddler dinosaur unit study and I couldn’t wait to share it with you!
This dinosaur unit study was made for a group of 1-3 year olds, but many of the activities would work great for a preschool dinosaur unit study, as well!
To kick things off, we sang some traditional songs with dino-twists – for example, switching out “Five Little Ducks” to “Five Little Dinos,” and had two special guests: this triceratops dinosaur puppet and this dinosaur egg puppet.
The dinosaur egg puppet allowed me to refresh the children on the basic Zoology concept (Download our Primary Zoology checklist by clicking here). that some animals are hatched, not birthed, and provided a transition into a fizzy dinosaur eggs sensory activity for kids.
Fizzy Dinosaur Eggs
- 1 Tablespoon Citric Acid
- 1/2 cup Baking Soda
- 3 Tablespoons Coconut oil
- Dinosaur Replicas
Basically, I had Ella help me make some fizzy bath bombs and we stuck small dinosaur replicas inside of them so we could “hatch” them.
After leaving them out all night to harden, I placed them in a small wading pool along with some small pitchers of water for the children to pour over top of the eggs to watch them hatch.
What’s nice about this activity is that the (food-safe) citric acid creates the fizzy action, removing the need for vinegar, making this a bit more soothing to the skin and less offensive to the nose. Also, being an endothermic reaction, it provides a cooling sensation as you’re playing with it.
For a twist, you could add mini-basters like we did for our Fizzy Baking Soda Hearts sensory activity for kids.
I borrowed some Dinosaur Duplo to help involve our toddler in the dinosaur unit study and added it to our block corner.
I also added some Dinosaur magnets to our snack fridge along with some number magnets, to hopefully encourage some grouping and counting. I also added a few dinosaur magnets to a small baking tray to give our toddler access to them (as the snack fridge is in a room that he does not have access to).
The math activity I am most excited about is this dinosaur tesselations tray, or dinosaur tangrams tray.
I created five different dinosaur tangrams and placed them on a cookie tray along with some magnetic tesselation shapes, which are less frustrating than the traditional wooden ones.
Dinosaur Matching Game. Helps children with memory retention and object permanence, as well as early math skills. I just used some foam stickers and stuck them on cardboard squares. Math.
Patterning Dinosaurs. I bought a $1 package of foam dinosaur stickers which are quite hard for children to use independently. I created three different patterns for the children to practice with, they will just be expected to place the two missing stickers on the cardstock, not actually attach them. Math.
To our reading corner, I added a Dinosaur Felt Board, the previously mentioned hand puppets, and our favourite dinosaur books, which we will explore at circle time for the rest of the week.
I created some hand-drawn Clock of Eras and Mesozoic Era Timeline posters which will be discussed during another circle time to expand upon the concepts of circular and linear time.
I placed out several puzzles, including:
- the continent map which will be introduced within a conversation about where various dinosaurs’ fossils have been discovered;
- two botany puzzles, tree and leaf;
- and two dinosaur puzzles which are both annoyingly missing a piece so I added a foam cut out for now until they are recovered.
We’ll also be exploring:
- Making hypotheses about which sounds dinosaurs might have made.
- Categorization of herbivore, omnivore, carnivore and how they relate to own food/meals.
- “Extinction bin” dinosaur small world that explores several extinction theories, including ice balls, dried play dough “asteroids” and a vinegar/baking soda volcano in a paddling pool
- Making our own clay fossils and painting them
- “That’s Not a Dinosaur” game (categorizing animals that lived during Mesozoic Era)
Dinosaur Practical Life
Sponge transfer. This is a new activity for both kids, I cut a thin sponge into a dinosaur shape to make it fit the theme. The children will be encouraged to “fill” the sponge full of water from the left tray and empty it in the right tray. Practical life.
Dinosaur Transferring with Dinosaur Chopsticks. This was a great and easy first chopstick activity – we have since used them for transferring barley, and in our Yoko-inspired sensory bin. Practical life, math.
Washing a Dinosaur. Children have to dispense soap from the “medicine dropper,” scrub the dino with the clean toothbrush, and then dry the dinosaur with a clean, dry cloth. Practical life. (It is a very practical skill to know how to wash a dinosaur…)
Dinosaur Arts & Crafts
Pasting feathers on velociraptors. Children will get a brief explanation of how paleontologists have to make hypotheses based on current information and how sometimes hypotheses change based on new information. What we used to think of dinosaurs like velicoraptors has changed based on new information — we now know that they had feathers!
For this activity, I will be providing the above colouring sheets, as well as:
Dinosaur Sensory Activities for Kids
Stereognostic bag. Out of the small dinosaur replicas (mostly from our TOOB*) I found matching ones that had distinct physical features and placed one of each pair in the bag, and its partner on the tray. I also provided the blackout eye mask to see which option the children were more comfortable with. I don’t anticipate this as being a popular activity but I’m always looking to be surprised! Sensorial, language.
Dinosaur Outlines. Matching foam dinosaur shapes to their outlines. Sensorial.
Dinosaur Excavation Tub. Giant tub of sand play dough with dinosaur skeletons stuck in and then sand sprinkled on top. I’ve provided magnifying glasses and two thick paintbrushes for sweeping, so we’ll see how this activity goes! The playdough was 8 cups of flour, 4 cups of sand, 4 cups of water, and 4 T oil; I left out cream of tartar and salt as I am not planning on “preserving” this playdough due to the sand element. Practical life, science, sensorial.
Dinosaur Gross Motor
We plan to learn the dance to the Wiggle’s “Romp Pomp a Chomp” and explore some dinosaur yoga.
Check out my friend Alecia’s walk like a dinosaur gross motor activity for kids.
What would you dig in and explore during dinosaur week?
Be sure to check out some of our other fun dinosaur activities, like our Scrubbing Dinosaurs lesson and Dinosaur Tangrams & 14 Other Dino Busy Bags.
Wow! There are a lot of ideas here! Thank you so much for sharing!