Toddler Tuesdays: Digging those dinosaurs

I've always joked with Craig that I didn't want a girl obsessed with horses or a boy obsessed with dinosaurs. Welp, I've got both. And of course, I don't care at all. I love their interests because I love them. And I have to admit, the dino thing is pretty cute when the obsessee is not even 2 and can barely pronounce "dino."

It all started when I picked up a toob of dinosaurs for our big road trip as a fun emergency situation toy. These were the surprise hit of the trip with both kids. After that, Jonah would get really excited whenever he would see dinosaurs. Tonight he just brushed his teeth with a dinosaur toothbrush (according to the box it might be a croc but it looks like a dinosaur and I'm not telling him so you all better not either), put on his dino pajamas and listened to his favorite dinosaur bedtime story.

Being in lazy summer mom mode, I hadn't planned on doing any dinosaur activities but a friend must have been planning a dinosaur themed birthday party because her party page started showing lots of dinosaur activities, a couple of which I knew Jonah would flip over and I couldn't say no to them if they fell in my lap, could I?


Dig Those Dinosaurs was by far Jonah's favorite. It repetitive rhythm is just perfect for that 1.5-2.5 year old crowd but Lucy enjoyed it the first few times as well. Mom and Dad could use a break but I think it might be a while before we get on since Jonah's asks for it by name and searches the house to find it before bedtime, naptime, potty time, etc. His favorite part - the drawing of the boy making a face at the fossil poop. Every time Jonah sees it he says "dino poop - ack!" and sticks out his tongue. I did really like that it was so simply I didn't have to edit it (for creationist/evolution discrepancies) like some of the others we checked out that didn't make this list.

Tadpole Rex is really about frogs and their life cycle but it has enough dinosaur tie-ins to satisfy both kids.

The How do Dinosaur series by Jane Yolen. We got several of these - and a board book. They aren't fine literature and they don't really teach you much about what dinosaurs actually do but they sure are cute and kid's love them. Jonah quickly figured out when to say "No" and "Yes."

Tea Rex - This was a library request that didn't came until the day we left for our trip so we haven't had a chance to read it yet but I wanted to include it because it looks so cute. I've requested it again so I'll try and remember to update this once we check it out.

Sensory Bin

I didn't find one that I wanted to copy exactly but I had wanted to try that magic/moon sand recipe I'd seen floating around anyway and I thought that would work well with this. It's just one part cornstarch to two parts sand + water. I started with just enough water to make it into a thick paste because I knew the kids would be adding more. It went into one section of our water table, water in another and then let the kids pick what add ons they wanted. We did our dino toys, some sea shells, leaves and some grass.

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The moon sand was pretty neat at the right consistency. It started out like plaster which wasn't so much fun but later we went too far the other way at which point the cornstarch dissolves in the water and you're left with just wet cloudy sand. If you can get it just right though, even the adults in the group probably won't be able to resist messing around in it. The good range was everything from moldable, which is nice for the neater kids who want to build things, to goopy but still mound-able which is perfect for making footprints then watching them disappear and for dramatic 4 year olds who want to pretend their dinosaur friends are drowning and need their other dinosaur friends to rescue them.

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We haven't done a sensory bin in a while but I really need to keep it in our rotation as they always really enjoy them. This one was particularly neat because as the water evaporated, the ground really looked like it was dried mud and some of the sea shells left impressions. Lucy loves this part and wanted to talk about the fossil making process; Jonah just wanted "Mo wa-wa now!"

Homemade Fossils

For the dinosaur fossil craft, we followed rainy day mum's instructions and the first part worked very well using our same toob of dinosaurs.

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We don't have a microwave so I cooked them in our toaster oven. The backs needed a bit more drying after that so I put them in the sun - and forgot about them while we were in North Dakota for the week. We came back to find that a rainstorm had turned them into a big fossil pile of yuck.

Oops! So we didn't get a chance to paint them or try matching our dinosaurs back. We might have to do this one again though, it really was fun and I think they would enjoy playing with the finished product if we can get to that point next time. And if Jonah's fascination continues, we'll have time for more of this craft and maybe even a few more.

Do you have any dinosaur books or activities that you'd recommend?

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