Communities often have resources that we don’t use or think of for young children, but many can be exciting adventures, especially if there are dinosaurs. Here are just two examples, a museum and a trail.
In a few areas, there are some dinosaur museums and parts of zoos that rival Jurassic Park and in most major cities, there will be a section of the museum for dinosaurs. At some of them, when kids are a bit older, there might even be an overnight “Sleep With The Dinosaurs” adventure. These places are often on the bucket list for families with kids.
However, even small, local or dusty, aging ones may have some exhibits that young kids would be excited to see. With young children, museum visits ideally are interactive and hands-on but they can be short enough to check out just a few displays like huge bones in glass cases and very old fossils. We were able to see a plaster cast of a dinosaur footprint. A 4-year old hand is smaller than one toe! Little bit by little bit, kids build their knowledge about something, so quick visits are valuable too.
How about a hike to find dinosaurs or a dinosaur trail? Just like museums, some areas will have walks and hikes with full-size replicas of dinosaurs set up in a park. The size alone can be a bit scary and ones with sound effects are quite frightening for young children. Dinosaurs usually have very big mouths with lots of teeth too.
Sometimes, though, the dinosaurs are small plastic ones that are hiding in the woods. Have you ever been on a hike to look for fairies or fairy doors? Instead of fairies, there is a trail in our area with dinosaurs. Families can go for a walk with kids and be on the lookout for dinos. Because they are natural colors, they are challenging to find. This kind of a trail can be set up anywhere. For a party, parents can hide a few dinosaurs in the park or playground for kids to find. What a fun, outside adventure!
Do you have any resources that you’ve found for fun and learning with dinosaurs?
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.
Kids 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.
Kids 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?
Did 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.
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?
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. For an invitation to play, I simply put some playdough, small … Continue reading Dinovember: Dinosaurs and Playdough
Do you sing the Wheels on the Bus at home? Hum the same tune but instead sing about The Dinosaurs In The Swamp with your toddler or preschooler. The actions are even more fun than before: The Dinosaurs In The Swamp The Tyrannosaurus Rex goes roar, roar, roar. Roar, roar, roar. Roar, roar, roar. The … Continue reading Dinosaur Songs to Sing at Home with Preschoolers
Because kids never see real live dinosaurs now, they are not limited in any way as to how they play with them. Dinosaurs are almost magical creatures that can do anything. This leaves kids free to play and create what activities they want and need. Dinosaurs can be used with other toys like Lego, blocks, … Continue reading Dinosaur Play and Construction Toys
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
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
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
Does your family do anything special in the month of Dinovember? Did you know over a quarter of a million people watch the Dinovember FB page? Dinovember is the idea of parents Refe and Susan Tuma who wanted to hold onto the magic and wonder of childhood for their children for a little longer. The … Continue reading Dinovember: Dinosaurs, November and Books