Dino-tastic Dinosaur Play Ideas
Updated: Sep 12, 2021
Engaging dinosaur play ideas for little ones who love all things dinosaur themed!
Dinosaurs are a topic that is very fascinating and appeals to a wide range of children. Read on to find out some of our favourite dinosaur books, how we cater for Miss 4’s interest in dinosaurs in our play at home and to see lots of sensory play ideas that you can use at home with your own little ones.
Dino Figurine Play
Setting up a small world with dinosaurs and some props is a great way to encourage imaginative play.
Here we used the top of our toy shelf to set up a dinosaur small world using our Grimms rainbow and semi circles to make homes for the dinosaurs. We also added some fake grass, plants and some Grimms pebbles to create the Dino land.
The benefit of setting it up on the shelf meant that we could leave it set up for Miss 4 to come back to as her little sister couldn’t reach it.
This type of small world could be set up using whatever items you have at home. Some real tree branches with leaves and rocks from outside could be used and cardboard boxes for dinosaur homes. Getting your child involved in the set up is a great way to give them some ownership of their play.
Small world play is great for:
Developing the ability to tell a story through play
Developing vocabulary and language skills
Developing social skills (if playing with others)
Having fun and so much more ...
Simple Dinosaur Themed Playdough
For this simple playdough invitation to play we used homemade playdough, our dinosaur Let Them Play stampers and some Collect A dinosaur figurines from The Creative Toy Shop.
Both girls enjoyed stamping the playdough and making the dinosaurs leave tracks, by stamping their feet in the playdough. Miss 17 months added some pencils to the playdough for poking it and making holes. Miss 4 added more dinosaurs and a birthday candle because it was T-Rex’s birthday.
This could be set up more simply with just the playdough stamps or just the dinosaur figurines.
*Miss 17 months was very closely supervised while playing with the playdough and stampers to ensure that she did not put them in her mouth.
The dinosaur figurines and playdough stamps are recommended for ages 3+
Dinosaur Playdough & Sensory Tray
This sensory tray below was made using a tray from Kmart. First we rolled the green playdough and pressed it down onto the tray and then added the black beans.
Also used below to play:
A homemade tree
Green Grimms pebbles
Some Grapat mates and coins
Dinosaur book -Questions and Answers about dinosaurs
Qtoys lowercase alphabet tiles to spell out dinosaur
Miss 4 enjoyed scooping the beans, stamping the dinosaurs in the playdough and playing imaginatively with the tray. This tray only took a few minutes to set up, but it led to lots of time spent playing dinosaurs.
Sensory play is great for:
Developing fine motor skills
Developing hand eye coordination
Developing problem solving skills
As a calming activity
Having fun playing and so much more ...
This type of tray is recommended for ages 3+ due to small parts.
Dino Sensory Play
For this easy dinosaur sensory tub we set up one side of our Flisat table with our chickpea sensory base and some loose parts.
Here is what I added in:
Our chickpea, rice and beads sensory mix
Some bowls and scoops
Our Two Little Ducklings dinosaur flashcards. Miss 4 enjoys looking at these.
A couple of our larger dinosaur figurines and some mini dinosaur figurines (Some from a Dinosaur Toob and some from Kmart in the party section).
A sectioned tray (from Rata and Roo) filled with some of our Grapat Mandala pieces.
Miss 4 enjoyed playing with this. She added in more dinosaurs and the rest of our mandala pieces as she played. The tray became a dinosaur ball pit.
This play idea recommended for ages 3+ as it contains small parts
Dinosaur Themed Books
While we only have a few dinosaur themed books, they are well liked.
The top 3 pictured are for Miss 4 only. They include dinosaur names and facts. The book in the middle is a scratch art and colouring book.
The two bottom books Ten Little Dinosaurs and Dino are both board books that Miss 1 and 4 both use. Ten Little Dinosaurs is great for learning about numbers (see next activity below). Dino is a book about different coloured eggs and dinosaurs.
The book Ten Little Dinosaurs (pictured below) is fantastic for learning to count backwards and also number recognition from 1-10.
Below I made a ten frame from a cardboard box, by drawing on a ten frame and then covering it with contact paper.
After we read the book, we added a number disc (made by Freckled Frog) and counted out the number of dinosaurs to match.
Tens frames are excellent for learning about quantities to ten, for counting, and for recognising addition and subtraction facts to 10.
We used our little dinosaurs from the Collect A tube on our DIY ten frame.
Learning facts about the different types of dinosaurs is something we do, when Miss 4 has a question or when we get a new dinosaur figurine.
Questions such as:
What did the dinosaur eat?
Was it a herbivore, carnivore or omnivore?
Where did it live?
How do you say the name correctly?
What happened to the dinosaurs?
What was the biggest dinosaur that ever lived?
We search for answers in our dinosaur books or online. This helps Miss 4 to learn more facts about dinosaurs and answer her questions.
Dinosaur Themed Music
We have an old CD player at home that the girls enjoy using for playing music.
This CD was bought for my classroom a long time ago. The girls enjoy listening to the dinosaur themed songs. These songs are also available on Spotify if you search dinosaur songs. We use Spotify a lot for playing different children’s music.
Another favourite at the moment for Miss 4 is the song 'Roar Like a Dinosaur' by Bounce Patrol.
When we listen to the songs we like to:
Pretend to be a dinosaur
Dance around the loungeroom or kitchen
Play musical instruments along with the music
Swirl silks or other pieces of material/a scarf around to the music
Listen while we play something else
Dinosaur Themed Podcasts for Kids
The ABC Kids listen app (free on the app store) has a podcast called 'Imagine This - Big Ideas for little ones'. Miss 4 enjoys listening and learning from this podcast. It has a dinosaur themed episode - Why did the dinosaurs die? and another one about volcanoes - Why do volcanoes erupt?
I would recommend checking it out if you have a little one interested in finding out some answers about some big questions .
Dinosaur Snap and Memory
We enjoy playing snap and memory using our *Prehistoric dinosaur flashcards from Two Little Ducklings (*You can find them here. Not an affiliate link). They are also great for learning the names of new dinosaurs too.
Dinosaur Muddy Play
This one was a bit of messy fun that I set up for Miss 4 outside on our tuff tray. We made some pretend mud using cocoa, water and flour and added the dinosaurs in. I put a container of clean water for washing the dinosaurs.
Having just a few dinosaurs out would have worked better than having a huge pile like we did.
Clean up at the end was easy as the tray was outside we just sprayed it with the hose.
Dino Egg Play Tray
This was a fun tray that we set up in the sunshine outside on our playmat. Both Miss 17 months and Miss 4 played with this. Miss 17 months was closely supervised.
We used our large tray, some coloured rice, our Freckled Frog rainbow nests (not affiliate link) and eggs and some dinosaurs.
This did start off as a tray with just the rice and rainbow bowls and eggs. Miss 4 decided to add the dinosaurs in. That is the great thing about an invitation to play - the children can play with it anyway that they like and add in things that interest them.
These dinosaur play ideas were taken from our play at home over a long period of time. We do not do play setups every day. Most of the time the girls lead their own play with toys and things around the house. The vast majority of our play is not pretty either.
Don’t feel you need to have all of the items shown above for play. Be creative and use what you have at home e.g. a rock and some containers from the kitchen can be used instead of expensive wooden toys in a sensory tray or small world. You can also DIY a lot of resources, such as the tens frame or make things, such as some number discs.
If your child is showing an interest in dinosaurs you may be able to try one or more of these ideas with them.
I hope this has provided some inspiration for some dinosaur themed play at home.
Comment below with any other dinosaur play ideas that you have tried.
Until next time, have fun playing xx
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* Please note all the above play and learning ideas were supervised by an adult. Small parts can be are choking hazard and are recommended for children ages 3+
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