Dinosaur Unit for Preschool
Another week, another preschool theme! If you can't tell already I love working with themes. Last year we just went through each letter of the alphabet (and yes, it took all school year to get through 26 letters...I was not as on top of it as I am this year). This year we are having so much fun picking different things to study. I originally had planned a fire safety week for this week, but Emerson has really been into dinosaurs lately, especially T-Rex, so I decided to do a dinosaur theme instead. I let the kids help to decide on themes so they are actively involved in the learning process.
Here are some of the activities that we did.
Icy Dinosaur Egg Excavation: This is an easy activity to do and is perfect for a hot day. All you need are some tiny plastic dinosaurs (thank you dollar section of target), balloons and water. Carefully squeeze a dinosaur into a balloon, fill it with water, tie it up and then freeze over night. In the morning, cut the balloon off and let the kids experiment different ways to get the dinosaurs out. We used warm water and pipettes. Emmett also liked to lick the eggs to try to get the dinosaurs out. Eventually they started smashing them on the ground and then let them sit in the sun so the ice would melt away. It was a fun way to introduce our new theme.
Dino Number Maze: This activity worked out better than expected. I wrote the numbers 1-10 on paper plates and laid them out in a maze pattern on the floor. Then I wrote extra numbers on plates to fill in some of the spaces around the original numbers. Emerson used her favorite dinosaur toy to move thru the maze going from 1 to 10 in order. This was a great way for her to work on number recognition and number order. We did this activity a few times throughout the week and ended up adding numbers 11-20 to the original maze so she could work on recognizing more numbers.
Dinosaur Movement Roll: I found this free printable at To Be A Kid Again. Emerson was really excited about this game. She had no problem coming up with some of her own movements for the dinosaurs. She even wanted to "fly" off the edge of the couch when she rolled the Pteranodon. In the original tutorial it says just to glue the paper cube together on it's own, but I knew that wouldn't last long with Emmett playing too so we wrapped it around a foam dice we already had and it held up really well. We use these dice all the time so if you can find a pair I highly recommend them. I got mine from a neighbor, but you can buy the same ones online from Amazon. See link at the end of post.
Dinosaur Race and Roll Game: Our foam dice are coming in pretty handy during this unit. I found this cute printable game from artsymomma, that was perfect for a graphing activity. Again I used our foam dice to make our game cube. We had some mini dinosaur figures and dinosaur erasers that we used to mark our graph. We turned it into a racing game between the dinosaurs to see which one would fill their bar first. Emerson always wanted the T-Rex to win because that is her favorite. This is another activity that we played throughout the week. It is always a good idea to have some repeatable activities in case you need to fill time and also to reinforce certain concepts.
Paper Plate Dinosaurs: I love, love, love these cute little dinosaurs and there are so many you can make! Just paint a paper plate and then add the heads, tails and legs to create any dinosaur you want. We again spread this activity out over two days so that the paint could dry. I let Emerson practice her cutting skills for this one and she did really well. Emmett enjoyed using the glue and also may have tried some of the paint as well. (Seriously, when do they stop eating everthing!)
Dinosaur Fossils: We used a simple salt dough recipe to make our very own dinosaur fossils. Emerson helped me make the dough and then I showed her how to take a small amount and squish it flat and then press the dinosaurs into it to create a fossil. She LOVED this! We started out using our tiny dinosaur figures and then she went and grabbed our larger T-Rex figure and pressed the head in to make a fossil and it looked awesome. Emmett mostly played with the dough and of course managed to sneak a couple tastes too! It took our salt dough about two days to fully dry. You can bake it in the oven to dry it out faster, but we were having a bit of a heat wave so I didn't want to turn my oven on. After they dry you can paint them to look more like rocks or just use fun colors like we did.
Recycle Dinosaur: This is an easy activity to do and encourages critical thinking and creativity. We gathered items that were in our recycle bin and taped them together to create a dinosaur. Emerson wanted to make a T-Rex, of course and she did a great job of finding items that would make each body part. She needed some help with the tape and some of the cutting, but most of the dinosaur she created. We tried to paint it a couple days later, but she only got as far as one leg before loosing interest.
Baby Dinosaur Matching Letters Game: I found this free printable game from Rainy Day Mum. It's a great way to help kids learn both upper and lowercase letters. Emerson loved matching the babies to their eggs. This was another activity that we repeated throughout the week.
Dino Goo Writing: We did this writing activity during Emmett's nap time. It was nice to have some one-on-one time with Emerson to work on her fine motor skills and writing. We mixed up a bit of flour and water until we got a smooth, sticky consistency. To make it more dinosaurish we added a bit of green food coloring. Emerson enjoyed practicing writing letters that she knew and then I had to guess which letter it was. We also wrote her name and Emmett's name too.
Dinosaur Stomp Painting: Emerson loved this one, but Emmett was not a fan. We found some bubble wrap pockets that slipped onto their feet perfectly. Then they stepped into the paint and stomped their feet on the paper like dinosaurs. Emerson did really well and had a ton of fun. Emmett was pretty apprehensive about it and only stomped on the paper a few times before trying to walk into the living room with paint all over his feet!
Muddy Dinosaur Sensory Play: This was a very messy activity, but luckily we had just changed our shower curtain so I laid that down before we got started to protect our "grass" on the patio. I put a few spoonfuls of cocoa powder into the sensory table and then added water to create mud. I added the dinosaurs and then let the kids go to town. Emmett loved dropping the dinosaurs into the mud. He ended up with "mud" all over himself, but it easily washed off. Emerson was a bit more tentative with this activity and after a few minutes lost interest. Clean up was pretty easy. I just dumped the water down the drain pipe on our balcony and then wiped the table down with a wet washcloth. If you try this either do it outside or make sure that you put some towels or a plastic tablecloth down on the floor.
Triceratops Masks: Can you tell that I love to use paper plates for crafts? I cut about 1/4 of the paper plate off and the scalloped the edge all around the top to make it look like a triceratops. The kids painted the plates and then we added some triangle pieces to create the horns and snout. I cut out the eyes and stapled a large Popsicle stick on one side. Emerson liked using the mask to scare everyone.
Boxy Dino Feet: To end our dinosaur unit I wanted to do something fun for the kids. I had planned to make some stuffed dinosaur tails, but ran out of time so I was only able to make these boxy dino feet. The kids loved them though! They both had a blast stomping around the house with their new dinosaur feet on. Emmett ended up ripping all the paper off of his, but we still have Emerson's. We just make sure to keep them out of Emmett's reach. All I did was wrap some empty glove boxes that Steve brought home with green construction paper and glued on yellow claws on the ends. The opening at the top of the box is a perfect hole to put their feet in. You could also use empty tissue boxes too.
To be honest I was not excited to do this dinosaur unit when we first got started, but it ended up being so much fun. Emerson was sad that it had to end. Let me know what your favorite activity was in the comments.