D is for Dinosaur

Below are a few highlights from the D is for Dinosaur themed activities I did with my preschool age boys.

Making and Digging for Fossils

We pressed our dinosaur shaped figures into some old play dough to create a mold for plaster fossils. Then, we mixed up some Plaster of Paris according to the instructions on the bag. We had purchased a big bag at the craft store with a 40% off coupon. We poured our plaster into the molds and let the fossils dry. When the plaster was dry, we removed the plaster fossils from their playdough molds, rinsed them off, and buried them in the dirt outside. The kids dug for the fossils and used their special "tools" (dollar store paint brushes and some of their playdough tools) to help clean off the dirt. When one of the fossils accidentally broke, it was a great opportunity to teach the kids why paleontologists have to be very careful and about how paleontologists put together fossils like pieces of a puzzle to get an idea of what a dinosaur might have been like. Because my kids are obsessed with trains and the show Dinosaur Train, we even made a train fossil, which my 3-year-old then enjoyed painting.

Visiting Museum of Natural History

I took the kids to the Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles. If you are in the area, I highly recommend visiting the museum. A new dinosaur hall just opened this summer. The museum also has a great a kids' discovery area where the kids can peer at bugs through microscopes, build a t-rex skeleton, and do other hands-on activities. Admission is free the first Tuesday of every month, though parking in the museum lot is $8-10. More information can be found on their website.
(Editor's note: For those close to or visiting Utah, a great dinosaur museum is found at Thanksgiving Point.)

Creating Art Projects

We colored pictures of dinosaurs, used red glitter to decorate dinosaurs and volcanoes that I cut out from craft foam, and made dinosaur silhouette paintings.

Playing with a Sensory Bin

We made a dinosaur play bin with rocks and leaves from our backyard. We included a "pond" for the dinosaurs--a small blue bowl filled with water. The boys really enjoyed making and playing with this.

Reading Books

We went to the library and checked out at least a dozen books featuring dinosaurs. Some of our favorites were the following:

All Aboard the Dinotrain by Deb Lund and Howard Fine

Trouble at the Dinosaur Café by Brian Moses and Garry Parsons

I Met a Dinosaur by Jan Wahl and Chris Shebar

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

In addition, we listened to and sang quite a few songs and rhymes about dinosaurs, we stomped around and pretended to be different types of dinosaurs, and we worked on writing the letter D and spelling words that start with D. We enjoyed doing a variety of printable dinosaur-themed activities such as puzzles, color matching, patterning, and lacing--all printed out from various Internet sources. One cute free printable pack is found here at 2 Teaching Mommies. For more ideas--see Andrea's adorable D is for Dinosaur preschool lesson plan and you can follow my "D is for Dinosaur" board on Pinterest.

Written by Rachel Hoggan, 2011

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