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Learning About Dinosaurs: Four Activities for Toddlers

written by: Tania Cowling • edited by: Patricia Gable • updated: 6/6/2012

Learning about dinosaurs and playing with dinosaur figures captivates a child's imagination and has been a popular theme with young children for generations. Read on to find some fun and educational activities to use in your classroom.

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    dinosaur 100 We know there are no dinosaurs living today, yet children love to pretend they are these gigantic creatures still roaming the Earth. They feel powerful and independent as they play and talk about these dinosaurs from long ago. Through play, toddlers begin to gain control over their excitement and fear, however there may be some little ones who are scared and shy away. This is OK - never push a child to participate in an activity where they are afraid. This article presents dinosaur activities to use throughout your curriculum that are fun and fearless.

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    Make a Dinosaur Hat

    If a toddler wants to become a dinosaur, he needs to look like one. This simple hat project is one children love to wear. Most of this project is done by the teacher with a little help from the children. It's not the art project that is important here, it's how the children feel when wearing it and use their dramatization skills in imaginary play.

    1. Use a paper bowl as the base of this hat. Make sure the size fits the toddler's head.
    2. Help the toddlers paint the outside surface of this plate green.
    3. Attach a wide ribbon or fabric strip to the backside of the hat with a stapler. This ribbon should hang down to the shoulders. Cover the staple with tape to avoid scratches or pulled hair.
    4. Cut out spike or "plates" from green construction paper and invite the toddlers to glue these onto the ribbon.
    5. Glue on two pom-poms to the front of the hat for dinosaur eyes.
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    Go on a Dinosaur Fossil Dig

    Toddlers love to dig in the sandbox outdoors or in the sand table in the classroom. Purchase plastic dinosaurs and hide them in the sand or cornmeal (as an alternative to sand in smaller containers). Tell the children they are on a "fossil hunt" and to dig for the dinosaurs. Toddlers can use their hands, a plastic shovel, or large kitchen spoon. As they hunt, sing this fun song together to the tune of "A Hunting We Will Go."

    Dinosaur hunting we will go,

    Dinosaur hunting we will go.

    We'll catch a dinosaur and look for more,

    And then we'll let them go!

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    Dinosaurs at Circle Time

    Place some plastic or stuffed dinosaurs on the floor in the middle of your circle. Have one player at a time choose a dinosaur to hug and give a pretend kiss. Let his game continue until all children have had a turn. Recite this verse as each child visits the dinosaurs.

    One day while walking down the street,

    Some lovable dinosaurs I did meet.

    One made a sound just like this (toddler makes a sound)

    So I took it home and gave it a kiss!

    Author Unknown (taken from On Dinosaur Days by Sherry Burrell [First Teacher Press]

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    Print a Dinosaur Booklet

    There are a variety of dinosaur materials that can be used to make this booklet; think about dinosaur rubber stamps, cookie cutters, stickers, and precut foam shapes. Use this booklet as a pre-math activity.

    1. Staple several sheets of paper together.
    2. Number each page. Page 1 should have a large number one drawn on the sheet and continue this process on all sheets. You can be safe from 1 to 3 in a toddler booklet.
    3. Decide which art medium you want to use. Toddlers can use a dinosaur stamp or cookie cutter dipped in a small amount of non-toxic tempera paint and print one dinosaur on page 1, two dinosaurs on page 2, and so on.
    4. Foam or paper shapes can be glued on in the same manner. Of course stickers are the easiest to place on each page.
    5. Reinforce counting skills as you help the toddlers read their dinosaur booklets aloud.
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    Enjoy these dinosaur toddler activities with your little Paleontologists. This is sure to become a favorite theme that may be asked to be repeated from time to time. Use these activities in conjugation with a dinosaur lesson plan. This subject will follow these children from grade to grade.

    Photo credit: http://www.hasslefreeclipart.com/clipart_cartanim/dinosaur.html

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