Dinosaur Dress-up and Big Body Play

Because dinosaurs were big creatures, they have big body actions. Big body movement and play is critically important for children’s healthy development–not just for bodies but for brains too.

dinosaur tissue box feetKids do not just like to move, they must have active play. Young children have to figure out how their body works and also how to create specific movements. This is a mental challenge as much as a physical one. Brains need to come up with a solution about how to move and coordinate the required actions. As kids move their brains are forming the pathways and links not just for actions but also for learning language and math.

dinosaur big body play activitiesKids can pretend they are dinosaurs with no more props than the words to suggest being a dinosaur. Some easy props are tissue (kleenex) boxes or big slippers to be dinosaur feet. A tail can be created with pieces of cardboard or fabric. This tail is a big triangle folded over, stitched, and stuffed. To make points that stood up instead of flopping over wasn’t as easy as it looked on various other blogs and websites, so this tail doesn’t have any at all. (Sigh, another “nailed it” project.) A length of elastic sewn to each side makes a circle that goes around a child’s waist. It’s flexible enough for different ages and sizes of kids. Stuffing the tail was a sneaky ‘no-guilt’ way to use up scraps of fabric too big to throw out and too small to save.

How do dinosaurs move? They take big steps and jumps. Some can fly or swim, but mostly they are slow and maybe…they only run in the house in slooow motion? How does your dinosaur move for big body play?

Dinovember: Draw a Dinosaur for Preschoolers

draw easy dinosaur stepsDid you know that drawing is a powerful activity for early learning and brain development? Not all kids enjoy drawing but dinosaurs are pretty appealing. Kids–and adults–do not have to be good at it!! It’s a form of PLAY.

When it comes to drawing, it’s very challenging for me. I really appreciate when the drawing is reduced to a set of easy steps. The website Draw with Rich had an amazing dinosaur. Here are the steps that we used, with apologies for the missing photo that shows the arms and the legs. You can see them in the colored picture.

Instead of paper, kids can try this on a chalkboard or an easel with felts or paint.

When kids are drawing and coloring, kids are exercising both muscles and brains. It’s easy to see how children are using the small muscles in their hands, fingers, wrists, and arms. It’s not so easy to see how brains are focusing and paying attention as well as coordinating movements using drawing tools. The brain is making pictures in the mind as the body is making pictures on paper. Making mind-pictures is called visualization and it is an important thinking skill.

drawing a dinosaur Just as we use words and language to communicate, we also use pictures to tell about experiences. Children can draw pictures to share with others. As kids both create and explain about their drawings, they will be using language too, such as the words for colors and shapes, and entire sentences. Adults have figured out that pictures hold meaning, but this is something that kids need to learn. Drawing also stimulates the imagination of children. The dinosaur and egg poster was done by a 5 year old boy and his mom together.

This is just some of the early learning and brain development potential when kids draw. As a reminder, we do not have to be good at drawing in order for it to be fun. Does your child enjoy this kind of play? Do you?

Dinovember: Dinosaurs and Playdough

Playdough is an inexpensive toy, whether homemade or store bought, and it can be used over and over again to support young children as they learn and play. For a Dinovember play-of-the-day activity, combine some playdough, dinosaurs, and maybe a few other items too.

dinosaurs and playdoughFor an invitation to play, I simply put some playdough, small plastic dinosaurs and a few accessories, like small pieces of wood, a few rocks, some pale but clear bits of glass to be water, and a few small plastic eggs that open and close. Both Big Sister (6) and Little Sister (3) loved the dinosaurs. They played in different ways, Big Sister made stories and scenes, while Little Sister pushed the dinosaurs into the playdough in different positions. She especially liked standing them on their tails. But they each directed their own play and interacted part of the time. Later on, Big Sister made tracks with the dinosaurs and then matched them up with the corresponding feet.

dinosaurs and playdoughPlaydough is not just fun, it’s also great for learning. As kids play with playdough, they are also improving their fine motor dexterity. The small muscles in the hands, fingers, and wrists are still developing. The brain also gets lots of exercise for problem-solving and planning and other thinking skills. Since it’s so easy to work with, kids can create, smoosh it back together, and create some more. This also helps develop concentration and focusing skills and encourages stretching attention span too. As kids talk and explain, they are practicing ways of using language. Playdough is ideal for little hands and for sensory stimulation. Fingers love to feel how it squishes, rolls, stretches, and flattens. The different items of the dinosaurs, playdough, sticks, and glass bits gave the fingers more textures to explore.

There are some wonderful sensory bins that we may try another day for a different kind of experience. Play can be simple or elaborate, and unlike the dinosaurs, it never goes extinct, although if someone leaves the playdough out it gets almost as hard as fossils. Hmm…maybe that could be an idea for another day?

Dinosaur Eggs, Life Cycle, and Where Babies Come From

Somewhere in the preschool years, children will ask where babies come from, but just in case they don’t, hatching some dinosaur eggs gives you a chance to talk about it. You can also check what a child already knows and if it’s more or less accurate. Dinosaurs are exciting for kids. If you are adventurous … Continue reading Dinosaur Eggs, Life Cycle, and Where Babies Come From

Dinovember Math Fun: 1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs are great for all kinds of math activities in Dinovember and anytime of the year. Dinosaurs know lots about numbers, think of how long ago they lived! Have you heard of Dinovember? It started with parents Refe and Susan Tuma who wanted to keep the magic of childhood alive for their kids with a … Continue reading Dinovember Math Fun: 1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Dinosaurs

Dinovember: Pretend Play and Dinosaurs

Did you know that children’s imaginations are taking a more than 60-million-year leap when they play with dinosaurs? November is a special month to encourage pretend play because it’s Dinovember! Dinovember began with parents Refe and Susan Tuma who wanted to preserve the wonder of childhood for just a little longer for their children, so … Continue reading Dinovember: Pretend Play and Dinosaurs