When my oldest was three he would sweetly creep into our bed in the morning, crawl up to my face, and whisper dinosaur facts. “Tyrannosaurs Rex has a head as big as a refrigerator.”
This is how I’ve been waking up for two years. No alarm clock necessary. I still have a minor heart attack every time.
With him leading the way (read: forcing me to live and breathe dinosaurs for the past three years) we’ve done quite a bit of learning. We’ve covered every topic from math to cooking. This week we’re back at it, ramping up for Dinosaur Week at our local children’s museum.
Dinosaur Unit for Kindergarteners,
Preschoolers, Homeschoolers, and
Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages
Reading / Language Arts
I let the oldest loose in the library. We hit the dinosaur section first every. single. time.
We get a different a Dougal Dixon dinosaur book almost every week. A great introduction to the vast variety of dinosaurs, their features, habitats, and varying sizes. These books are fairly short and easy to read. If your kid is obsessed with non-fiction dino books, these won’t make you want to go extinct before bedtime.
Vocabulary – Reading and learning about dinosaurs will expand your child’s vocabulary beyond what you can imagine. Use the real words. If they know meat-eater and plant-eater, they can also learn carnivore and herbivore. Don’t worry if you have no idea how to pronounce the words. We learned a lot of pronunciation from tv and movies. They have a lot of fun correcting me.
Easy Readers – There are tons of leveled books for your emergent readers. The Danny and the Dinosaurs series was great when he was three and moved on to the Jurrasic Park readers now.
Be sure to preread if you have a sensitive little learner. When the oldest was three, he rationalized the more violent pictures by telling himself that the dinosaurs were eating the “sleeping dinosaur’s boo-boo.” Aw. We also had a lot of talks about how a meteor is not going to hit the earth again and cause us all to go extinct.
Our collection of dinosaurs has grown exponentially. We used them as manipulatives for math this week and found out we are up to 101 dinosaurs. They are taking over the Earth again, starting with our house.
Here we are working on making sets and working on counting, skip counting, addition, subtraction, patterns, and doing some sorting with the baby. Yep, he’s holding a red Sharpie.
It’s all science, really. Dinosaur habitats, features used for defense, dinosaur diets, how one species evolved from another, learning about scientists, digs, and so much more. It’s really an endless amount of information and a great way to engage children with science.
The Dino Dig treat from apples4bookworms was an especially delicious science activity. I ate the majority of them.
It led to discussion about how dinosaur fossils have been discovered under many layers of sand, dirt, and rock, how the earth has changed since the time of the dinosaurs, and what a fossil hunter and archaeologist do. All while stuffing our faces with pudding and graham crackers. It doesn’t get better than that.
Dinosaurs led directly to the oldest’s next obsession – maps. Dinosaurs have been found on every continent. This lends itself to some great mapping activities. We are some Basic Brachiosaurus, though, so we stuck to examining the maps in books and pointing out places we read about on a map or globe.
This eventually led us to checking out children’s atlases from the library. Dry reading for me, but he was eating it up. Speaking of eating it up…
In addition to the Dino Dig science project above, the oldest had a great time making these Dinosaur Egg Rice Krispie Treats form messforless . After we made them all he decided that he doesn’t like Rice Krispie Treats so I ended up eating all of these too. Yum.
I just can’t say enough about Jane Yolan and Mark Teague’s How Do Dinosaurs series. We own three but have read nearly all of them. We have How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? memorized. I try to read it after every full-out-kicking-screaming melt down – which was daily for a while, there. Three years old was tough.
We love Marc and Neil Sedaka’s Dinosaur Pet. We got this as a gift when the oldest was two. The book comes with a CD – an adorable rendition of Neil Sedaka’s Calendar Girl reworked to teach the months of the year with a bit of dino humor (always appreicated). Waking Up is Hard to Do also includes this song and is one of the least annoying children’s music cd’s I’ve heard. Check your library!
Arts, Crafts, and Fine Motor Development
Oh the Dinosaur crafts. We probably have 101 of these, too. Some of my favorites were making dinosaur skeletons out of q-tips on black paper, making fossil imprints in playdoh, and cut and paste dinos made from geometric shapes.
But the most hilarious project was the frozen dinosaurs in ice. I laughed so hard watching the kids trying to get those suckers out. After picking and rubbing wasn’t working fast enough, they resorted to smashing them on the concrete.
Not like the adorable, Pinterest-worthy angel children on the blog where I found it.
PE / Gross Motor Development
Pretend to be a dinosaur. After you’ve learned about some different dinosaurs it’s fun to turn your kid into one. Work those little muscles with crawling, stomping, reaching, and imitating dino features. Some fun ones:
Gallimimus runs like an ostrich.
Tyrannosaurus Rex was huge with little, tiny arms.
Microraptor was small and soared from branch to branch.
Stegosaurus walked slowly on four legs.
Plateosaurus could walk on two legs or four, reaching up into the trees for leaves to eat on it’s hind legs.
Diplodocus had the longest tail of any known dinosaur and used it like a whip for defense.
YouTube Playlist: Dinosaurs Kindergarten Playlist
Roughly 45 minutes of dinosaur fun. Enough time for a shower and hot cup of coffee. Enjoy.
There are more dinosaur shows and episodes than we could ever watch. Here are a few that they’ve asked for over and over:
Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs, Series
Little Einsteins, Quincy and the Instrument Dinosaurs, Season 2
Super Why, Baby Dino’s Big Discovery
Magic School Bus, Busasaurus
Dinosaur Train (on PBS app, too), 7 Seasons
Dino Dan, 2 Seasons
Trek’s Adventures (Dino Dan), 2 Seasons
The Good Dinosaur
Land Before Time Series (A million videos)
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Check out local museums for dinosaur exhibits, shows, and special events. I’ve seen several traveling exhibits come through our area, and we have a local museum with a long-term exhibit and movie.
I highly recommend Dinosaur World if you live near Plant City, FL. Coupon
There are also locations in Texas and Kentucky. Adding those to our travel plans ASAP along with the Field Museum in Chicago to meet Sue.
If you can’t get to a museum just dump last night’s chicken bones in the sandbox at any local park.
No. That is NOT okay.
How about bringing some plastic dino toys for a sandbox dig at the park or just hide your chicken bones in your own garden. Better yet, just tell your kids there are fossils in the yard and point them toward the weeds. Guaranteed they will find a fossil. So what if it’s just a rock?
I hope this inspires you to take your dinosaurs to the next level. We took a lot of inspiration from some fabulous mommies and bloggers on Pinterest, but we are not Pinterest Perfect. We have made messes, had lots of laughs, and learned a ton about these interesting animals. Enjoy.