Young children love dinosaurs and while Jurassic passions may seem like just another passing craze all children go through, there are some interesting explanations behind the infatuation.
Encouraging more engagement in 'dino play' can foster key developmental skills including confidence in STEM as well as creativity. This week learn why dinosaurs are a great theme for craft and play, and how to stimulate dino-play in your service with a few new activity ideas.
The benefits of playing with dinosaurs
According to Babyology, there are a number of reasons why children like playing with dinosaurs, and in return there are many ways it helps them develop and learn:
- Children can safely master a scary and extinct monster
Dinosaurs have all sorts of foreboding qualities like sharp teeth, big claws, scaly bodies, and powerful limbs. Confronting and coming to terms with something scary, while knowing they no longer walk the earth, is reassuring and can help children deal with other scary things in their life.
- They learn about earth, life, and the natural world
These incredible and fascinating creatures teach children more about how species come to be, disappear, adapt, and survive. An interest in dinosaurs also helps children understand the earth’s timeline and appreciate that amazing things existed long before they did.
- Their primal instincts are exercised
Some experts believe that dinosaurs might trigger a biological bias in children that stems from our days as hunters and gatherers. In the past, humans were programmed to think of 'big game' creatures as either potential food or a reason to run. They forced us to pay attention regardless.
- There's an opportunity for increased knowledge
With dinosaurs, there are so many exciting things to learn like all the different types of dinosaurs, their complex names, varied habits and habitats, interesting timelines, and different features. There's always more to learn when it comes to these prehistoric creatures.
- They get to display over-excitability
A love of dinosaurs also taps into a number of different 'super-sensitivities' for children such as psychomotor, sensual, emotional, intellectual and imaginational.
7 ideas for dinosaur play
Here are a few dinosaur themed ideas to help excite and encourage the children in your service to develop their interest in dinosaurs:
- Dinosaur discovery table
Set up a table with dinosaur items such as story books, posters, toys and "fossilised dino bones" that require uncovering from moulds with tools.
- Hatching dinosaur eggs
Freeze mini plastic dinosaurs in balloons filled with water, then ask the children to help them "hatch" using water filled eye droppers, squirters or squeeze bottles. Another alternative to this idea is hiding dinosaurs in playdough eggs for the children to discover.
- Create a mini dino world
Invite children to create a small dinosaur world via a diorama or similar set-up. This could be as simple as filling a container with sand, rice or seeds and placing stones, sticks, leaves or other objects around tiny plastic dinosaurs.
- Painting with dinosaurs
Messy but fun! Simply grab some small toy dinosaurs, paint and paper and let the kids create art using the dinosaurs to stomp footprints and other marks.
- Dinosaur counting pegs
Make and paint a cardboard dinosaur, then have the children attach numbered pegs in sequence from one to ten to create a stegosaurus. Great for maths and fine motor skills.
- Dinosaur craft
Cut out dinosaurs on paper and then have children glue rice, pasta, bits of paper or other objects to the picture to create their own special dino. Sensory and fun.
- Be a dinosaur
And don't forget that dinosaurs love to stomp, chomp and roar! Encourage the kids to role play being dinosaurs walking the earth long ago. What would they sound like? What would they do? How would they look? Endless fun and an opportunity to interact with peers while using their imaginations.