early childhood education Preschool
Activities for a Dinosaur Theme

Ideas and activities that enhance preschool and kindergarten curriculum about dinosaurs.  Young children in early childhood classrooms learn about prehistoric creatures as they participate in these hands-on preschool activities.


Preschool Activities about Dinosaurs

Dinosaur Puppet Show
Preschool and kindergarten children learn the names of various dinosaurs and some characteristic of each during this activity from Cathy W. that introduces one theory of how  dinosaurs became extinct. 

Laminated pictures of dinosaurs that are mounted on a pain  stirring stick (or other stick). Cathy uses pictures from the bulletin board set, commonly seen in teacher's stores. 
Silk plants i.e.: "ferns" 
A classroom table 
Green tablecloth (or other green fabric)
A tape, tape recorder, and player
Large pieces of black construction paper

Description: Teachers pre record on a cassette tape a story which introduces the dinosaur's environment (place your plants on the set).  Introduces each dinosaur puppet with some feature characteristics such as; plant or meat eater, protection against predators, etc.  Place each dinosaur in turn, on the set. 

Mention the theory of a meteor hitting the earth (lower a rock), causing ash to float in the air and block the sun (set up black construction paper all along  the set).  Mention that this killed off the plant life (take away the ferns), which  in turn killed the plant eaters (remove plant eaters) and eventually the meat  eaters (remove from the set).  Dinosaurs became extinct.

A table turned on its side with a table cloth provides a good set.  Tape the  pieces on the edge as you place them on the set.

Perform the play as per the tape, adding / deleting pieces as necessary. The tape can be as elaborate or simple as appropriate for your class. After the play, review pertinent facts addressed in the play.

Comments: I used this with 3 different preschool classes, with children ranging  from late 3's to 5 years old.  I have also used it in a kindergarten class. The children enjoy the puppet show and are very attentive.  They are able to remember all kinds of facts about each dinosaur, the environment in which they lived, and what made them extinct.

Dino Dig
During this sensory experience by Monica young children use fine motor skills.

Materials: Large plastic dinosaurs, paper cups, sand, plaster of paris, toothbrushes, small paint brushes or any item you can think of to brush off the sand.

Description: In advance, teachers fill paper cups about half way with damp sand.  Using the large dinosaurs make impressions in the sand with the footprints of  the dinosaurs.  Pour the plaster of paris over each impression and let dry.  When  the plaster is dry peel off the paper cups. Place in a sensory table with more  sand.  It doesn't matter if sand is still connected to the plaster. Add brushes to the table so the children can brush the sand off the fossils.

Comments: It is fun if you can make enough for each child.  They love showing  their parents their dinosaur fossils and then taking them home.

dinosaur action songDinosaur Song
Youngsters participate by sing and acting out the motions to this dinosaur song by Kay who says, "My older three's loved it".

  I'm a Mean Old Dinosaur
 (Tune:  I'm a little Tea Pot)

 I'm a mean old Dinosaur 
   (Make a mean face, the kids make the cutest mean faces)
 Big and Tall
   (Gesture hands big and tall )
 Here is my tail, here is my claw.
   (Gesture hands behind your back for tail and make claw hands)
 When I get all hungry 
   (rub your tummy)
 I just growl
  (have the kids exaggerate the grrroooowwwlll)
Look out kids I'm on the prowl.
  (Here I tickle each one of the tummy and they all giggle)

 Comments: I thought this might scare my three's, but they all giggled
 and thought it was fun.  They went home and taught their parents.

Dinosaur Alphabet Trace
Encourage preschoolers to recognize the letters of the alphabet with this game by Sandra V.

Materials: 5 big dinosaur paws cut from cardboard, ABC's letters on the wall or on small papers.

Description: Teachers install the paws on the floor.  Then, tell the students that there is a big volcano that just blew up and that to reach security, they have to cross on the footsteps.  To be able to pass from one paw to the other, they have to name the letters you show them.

Comments: This is a good activity when you start a dinosaur theme and you can put more or less letters, depending on the moment of the year and what the students already know.

Dinosaur Fingerplay
During this early childhood fingerplay by Lisa G. children will learn some key facts about dinosaurs.

The Dinosaurs
The dinosaurs lived long ago, when life on earth began.
   (gesture palm up wave over your shoulder)
Some were tall (gesture high).
Some were small (gesture low).
Some liked water (gesture swimming).
Some liked land (gesture walking by alternating palms on your knees).
Pteranadons had leathery wings (gesture flying).
Brontausaurs, long necks (gesture to neck).
But the meanest dinosaur of all (gesture mean face).
Was Tyranosaurus Rex (gesture heavy stomping by alternating
  palms on your knees).

Comments: Ham it up!

counting dinosaurs 5 Dinosaur Song
Combine music, counting and dinosaurs in this action song / chant by Michal.

5 Dinosaurs driving in their cars (drive your car)
Having a really good time!
They said "step on the gas (step on your gas!)
We'll go really fast" and they did! 
Until, kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk.
 (On each kerchunk, sink lower and lower until you 
 are crouched on the ground)
One had a flat tire!
And he said "You go on without me!"  (Cup hands over mouth)
So there were, 4 dinosaurs, driving in their cars etc. etc. until

1 dinosaur driving in his car
Having a really good time.
He said "step on the gas,
I'll go really fast!" And he did!
Until kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk.
He had a flat tire!

Now this was a smart dinosaur. 
He jacked up his car (jack up your car!  Crank crank crank)
Took off the flat tire (take off that heavy tire!)
Took out his spare tire (take out that heavy spare!)
Jacked it back down (crank crank crank)
Then he drove around and picked up all his friends
And then there were...

5 dinosaur driving in their car
Having a really good time.
They said "Step on the gas
We'll go really fast" and they did!
Over the hills and far away!

Comments: If you get really into the motions, the kids love this  song!  We sing it every day of Dino Camp!

Science: Dinosaur Environment
This dinosaur lesson plan by Leah E. enhances science curriculum and helps children learn about where dinosaurs lived.

Materials: Playdough - we made it chocolate scented to look like mud, juice can, plastic dinosaurs and plastic plants, blue gel glue and rocks. I got a bag of dinosaurs and plants for under $2 at Walmart.

Description: First we read the book "Dazzle the Dinosaur". Then we discussed where Dazzle lived and why the dinosaurs wanted to return to the cave.  We discussed real dinosaurs and pretend dragons.

Next, we used the bottom cardboard from a case of soft drinks, I sprayed it black and green.  The kids used playdough for mud and dirt, added rocks and plants and used the blue gel glue for a watering hole.  We also covered a small juice can with playdough for a volcano.  Then, we put the environment on display for the week and on Friday we had a "dino" party and made the volcano explode using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda.

Have extra vinegar and baking soda available the kids wanted to see the  volcano explode several times and they wanted to show the parents at pickup time also.
 ***** I added red food color to the vinegar ******

Comments: The dinosaur theme is all time favorite!!  It usually lasts for 2 weeks because the kids are so interested in it.

Measure up to Dinosaurs
Preschool and kindergarten children compare their size to that of a dinosaur during this activity by Bridget.

Materials: A book about dinosaurs with sizes included, masking tape, and a tape measure.

Description: Check the sizes of various dinosaurs in the dinosaur book, then use the tape measure to measure out the distance across the floor.  Use the masking tape to create a line on the floor the same distance as measured.

I usually use two or three dinosaurs: to show a small one and a large one, like  T-Rex or Apatasaur and a smaller dinosaur.  I mark the name of each dinosaur next to the tape line and then have the children lie down at the end of the tape line and mark their name off at where they measure against the line.  When finished the children can see how tall or long they were compared to the dinosaurs.

Comments: I have found that the children really enjoy this activity and are very eager to show the results to parents.  The longest dinosaur I have ever used to measure against was an Apatosaurus and the tape line extended the entire length of a hallway and into another room! The other teacher, let us borrow the room
for the activity.

creative activity  Playdough Dinosaurs
Preschool children use fine motor coordination and creative skills during this early childhood activity by Pamela D.

Materials: Playdough of different colors, different plastic dinosaurs and 5x7 piece of poster board.

Description: Playdough helps strengthen the muscles in children's hands and at the same time is very enjoyable for them to play with. 

To start I make several different colors of playdough out of a home made recipe.  Before I start this project I have had the children sit down and draw their favorite dinosaur on paper.  We have already discussed the different parts of a dinosaurs body: legs, head, neck, tail, spikes, horns, etc.  Now  we are ready for the fun part! 

 1. Put a plastic dinosaur in middle of each table.

 2. Give each child a piece of poster board and let them pick out any color or colors of playdough.  I provide enough playdough so that the children can easily shape at least three balls.

 3. Tell the children to create their own dinosaur and name it.

 4. Put the dinosaur on the poster board and write on it what the child named it.  Also make sure the child's name is on it too.  I like to display the dinosaurs out in the hallway and then I send them home.

Comments:  Remember whatever the child names the dinosaur is great!! DO NOT change it in any way or form.  Also do not change what they make even if it doesn't look like a dinosaur.  They are always proud of what they create.  This is their creation, not yours. 

Lots of playdough recipes are in the Rainbow Resource Room.

Linda M. shares this action poem by Nancy Klein.

 Spread your arms, way out wide, 
 Fly like a Pteranodon, soar and glide.

 Bend to the floor, head down low, 
 Move like Stegosaurus, long ago.

 Reach up tall, try to be
 As tall as Apatosaurus eating on a tree.

 Using your claws, grumble and growl
 Just like Tyrannosaurus on the prowl.

Comments: After this I have the children try to come up dinosaurs and matching actions for us to do. The children love it!

Story time reading:  Patrick's Dinosaurs  by Carol Carrick.

Dinosaurs: Be a Paleontologist!
During this early childhood activity by Linda M. children learn about fossils and paleontologists.

 Materials: Sand, clean chicken or turkey bones and Plaster of Paris.

Description: Teachers can have children become a paleontologist (a scientist who specializes in finding and studying ancient fossil remains) by bringing clean chicken or turkey bones to school.  Place each bone in wet, packed sand to make an imprint.  Remove the bone and pour Plaster of Paris into the imprint (or mold). Let it harden and then remove it from the sand.  Have the children label and display their fossils.
Comment: Lots of fun!

Rhyme: Dinosaurs
Subtracting Numbers

Five enormous dinosaurs
Letting out a roar--
One went away, and
Then there were four.

Four enormous dinosaurs
Crashing down a tree--
One went away, and 
Then there were three.

Three enormous dinosaurs
Eating tiger stew--
One went away, and 
Then there were two.

Two enormous dinosaurs
Trying to run--
One ran away, and then there was one.

One enormous dinosaur, 
Afraid to be a hero--
He went away, and
Then there was zero.

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