Adrian just turned three years old, and he is totally Dino obsessed! So, we are excited to start our Dinosaur unit study where we will share our hands-on fun, sensorial activities, book, puzzles and more! I hope you follow along as we will be adding new activities as we go! I suspect Adrian will keep on his passion for some years to come!
We research first and then explore in pretend and sensory play. And what is a better way to start a new subject than by reading an encyclopedia?
Read here ~ Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs 3D pop-up book
Mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex was 40 feet long, weighing 70 tones, and it roamed exclusively in North America. It lived Late Cretaceous 95-65 mil y ago. Brainy, powerful and fast, T-Tex was an efficient carnivore with a septic bite. Recent bite evidence indicated that T-Rex ate both duckbilled and horned dinosaurs, and even other T-Rex. Another theory suggests that this cold-blooded lizard could not possibly have hunted, and must have been a scavenger instead since it lacking strong arms.
Read a post here about our Dino Box and all our Dinosaurs
Below is a video of Adrian, at 37 months, telling about his dinosaur friends. This video is not edited, and it was a live uninterrupted stream, so he had to remember all the names and prominent characteristics to be able to reiterate it all.
“Kentrosaurus has spikes all over his body. Styracosaurus has spikes along its frill, two dots on its frill, knobs on his cheeks and a horn on his nose. Brachiosaurus has a long neck to eat leaves high up from the trees. T-Rex has sharp teeth the size of a banana; he is a vicious predator – a King lizard. Triceratops has a frill around his neck and three horns.”
Read about Dinosaurs, My First Discoveries book here
Read here a summary of What’s on our Dinosaur 📚Bookshelf
See here Dinosaur Matching Memory Game that I created
As a part of the geography lesson, we are placing our Dino friends on the 🌎World 🗺Map, allocating each to a continent it once roamed over:
📍Triceratops: 🌱plant-eater, lived exclusively in 🔶North America;
📍T-Rex: 🍖carnivore, roamed exclusively over 🔶North America as well;
📍Brachiosaurus: herbivore (🌿leaves & 🌱tender shoots), roamed mainly over 💚Africa (Algeria & Tanzania) & 🔶N.A. Colorado;
📍Allosaurus: 🍗carnivore; 🔶North America & 🔴Europe;
📍Velociraptor: 🍖carnivore, exclusively in 💛Asia.
p.s. In a Montessori Geography curriculum, all 🌍continents are color-coded, so when studying animals of a certain continent, for example, those animals can be color-associated with that continent. For more on continent color-coding, read here “Colored 🌈 Continent 🌎Globe.” Also, see here a video-post “Learning Continents with a 🎤 Song using a World Continent Puzzle 🗺️ Map at 33 months.”
We are turning a cutlery tray into a small world DINO sensory bin! And since the tray (without extensions) has the exact same amount of compartments as continents in the 🌎 world, we sorted our DINOs by their continental habitats while referencing to an amazing book Dinosaur Atlas: An Amazing Journey Through a Lost World. As such we learned that dinosaurs roamed even in Antarctica (it was not that cold in Antarctica back then) as substantiated by fossils of Ankylosaurus.
I also found another great DK book at a library ~ DK Great Dinosaur Atlas, and Adrian visually learned about the Pangea and drifting continents. We used this dinosaur fossils map as a reference to sort our dinos.
We are also using the same 🍴cutlery tray which has the same amount of compartments as continents in the world, to color sort pom poms! In Montessori Geography, each continent is color-coded: North America is orange, South America is pink, Europe ~ red, Africa~ green, Asia ~ yellow, Australisa~ brown, and Antarctica is white. So we filled each compartment with corresponding color pom poms. This is an awesome fine motor color recognition Geography activity that can be modified for ages 2yo +. Buy mini tongs here and spork tongs here.
This is a dinosaur inspired strip cutting DIY made using paint 🎨 samples from a local hardware store. I placed stickers on each color-shade strip and the child will simply cut straight along the white line. I also made another set, a little more challenging, where I drew zigzag lines in between the stickers (from the Blue Book). Adrian is used to cutting straight across, so I think this will provide a bit of a challenge for him.
Invitation to measure a dinosaur ~ download the cards here.
Hatching Frozen Dinosaurs
Froze little tiny dinosaurs in balloons and present them as “eggs” and had the kids melt them with salt and warm water.
DINO Sensory/Discovery Bottle
Sensory/discovery bottles are amazing as they are super easy to make with materials you already have at home and they are super fun! Simply fill a wide mouth recycled water bottle (or a spice jar) with rainbow rice (or any color rice, lentils, oats or sand) and hide your child’s favorite objects, small enough to fit comfortably into your bottle. (To make rainbow rice, you would have to make each color individually in a zip-lock by simply adding a squirt of vinegar to a dry rice plus the desired food coloring ~ then shake it and lay flat to dry.) I suggest taking a picture first before “burying” your objects in rice since you want to remember what you will have your child to spy for. So, simply use your iPhone and take a picture, or we are using these DINO matching cards as a reference.
Play I -Spy Game: “Can you find T-Rex? Triceratops?” etc. (We are using these dinosaurs figureens.) Or if you do not wish to make cards or your little one does not know dinosaurs names, simply ask: “Can you please find a green dinosaur?” Or “Can you find a dino with a horn/thrill etc.” Alternatively, if your child can identify but not name the dinosaur, ask “What color is T-Rex?” These bottles can be used during car trips, flights or while waiting in a doctor’s office. You can also use various animals and ask what animal can you spot? Note: do not forget to take a picture of all object first, so that you will know what to ask for later. Also, make sure you secure the cap tightly if you have small children to whom these objects might pose a choking hazard.
Frozen Dino Eggs
🍫Cloud Dough Mud
There is something about the messy play that kids just love! So, here, I set up this sensory bin with cloud dough diluted with water. Cloud dough is beautifully soft, wonderfully moldable and amazing to touch, and it could not be simpler to make. A general recipe would be: combine well 1 part of oil to 8 parts of flour= 1/2 c oil + 4 c of flour.
Chocolate Cloud Dough Recipe:
- 1/2 cup of vegetable oil so it is taste-safe
- 3 cups of flour
- 1 cup of cocoa powder (to give your cloud dough that brown muddy feel and look)
- I also added stones and marbles to resemble the rough prehistoric terrain (avoid this step if you have smaller children as stones can be a choking hazard!)
- to make mud ~ just add WATER!
Offer your child a small brush and have them practice those gross motor practical life skills while having a totally blasty muddy messy fun!
Exploring Dinosaurs 🐾 Foot-prints & Fossils
DIY DINO’s Footprints Matching
This is a fun DIY, matching a dinosaur to its footprints. Simply make an impression of each dino’s feet in play dough and then observe and discuss similarities and differences of each footprint. (Ages 4 y+ while simply stamping in play dough ~ 6 M +.)
To make learning fun and hands-on, I mixed up all the footprints and dinosaurs and then offered Adrian to match each dinosaur to its foot impression.
I also made labels for each DINO, which would be for an older child though with advanced reading skills.
DIY Baked Frozen Cloud Dough Fossils DIG
The “DIG IT UP” dino set we have, cost $100 now (though buy similar less expensive here and here) so I decided to make a DIY kit. Lay DINO skeletons and fossils on a baking pan (I added some beach pebbles as well to give it some rocky texture). To make “dirt” mix flour (I am using expired Hemp Protein Powder) plus 💦 water until it is thick liquidy mass, capable of pouring (just like making a cake). Bake at 400F for thirty minutes (make sure your skeletons do not melt as they are plastic). I then placed the baking pan into a ❄️freezer for twenty min to solidify the mixture (since it was soft exactly like a cake). Offer a 🔨 hammer, golf ⛳️ tee and a toothbrush, and your little one is ready to dig!
DIY Volcano DINO Small World
Simply stick play dough to the outside of a recycled water bottle, fill the bottle halfway with baking soda, add a squirt of red or orange food coloring and a squirt of dishwasher liquid and then carefully pour vinegar in the bottle and watch your volcano irrupt! We are using this Dinosaur Prehistoric World 2-Sided Playmat.
Beach Pebbles DINO Small World
DINO Small World Sensory Bin was a big hit with both my children: five and nine-year-old. All you need is beach pebbles, wooden slices, small dinos and sparks of imagination! Happy playing! We are using this white storage box to contain everything from this table set.
See here Dinosaur Puzzles Roundup video-post of Adrian assembling a 48-piece Dinosaurs 4-in-1 Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle at 39 months.
This Prehistoric Life 60 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle 60 pc puzzle has vivid realistic pictures of familiar dinosaurs and is perfect for ages 4 +yo.
During one of our winter storms, our Dinosaur friends came outside and they were very bewildered seeing snow for the first time as they did not think the Ice Age is coming. Read a post here.
Stay tuned as more posts are coming …