Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dinosaur Day! Preschool Learning Activities

We're usually drowning in princesses, so it's a wonderful thing that my 4-year-old has been increasingly interested in dinosaurs. Still, she resisted Dino Day as soon as she heard about it, until I promised a jam-packed day o' fun:

It was easier to find dinosaur-related preschool activities on-line than it had been for our Doc McStuffins Day, so I printed off several types of learning printables. There are a ton of sites that pop up when you search for dinosaur preschool pack, but here are a few I looked at (I pick and choose which pages to download based on my 4-year-old's individual interests, and what she needs to work on):

Lani completed those while I prepped for our other activities. My original plan had been a fossil dig in the backyard - I bought a bunch of plastic dinosaurs (I think skeletons would be a little creepy for my little one), but, in the midst of a particularly sweltering hot Florida summer day, couldn't bring myself to try to find enough dirt patches in our yard to dig up and bury them in. In the end, I made a makeshift sandbox from a under-the-bed storage box and a pack of sand I had ordered in anticipation of the real sandbox we may eventually get. The dinos got thrown into the box of sand, and that box was one big hit! They spent a substantial amount of time sifting through the box, squishing their toes in it, trying to pour out the sand, etc., etc. We followed it up with some non-themed time in the sprinkler to wash off all that sand! I had also frozen some dinos in blocks of ice overnight, along with a few other toys, and let them play with "excavating" them from the ice. That got old fast, since my two are not particularly patient!  

Next up was a dinosaur snack that I had gotten the idea for from Pinterest. I think the pinner had named it "Pteradactyl Park", but there was only a photo uploaded, no link for me to give out. Using that as inspiration, I used a piece of styrofoam, covered it with plastic wrap (to keep the "sand" still edible), and laid crushed graham cracker crumbs along the bottom. I then planted wooden skewers of fruit into the styrofoam, and decorated the whole thing with some of the excavated dinosaurs. The girls LOVED it, and ate the fruit faster than I've ever seen them eat fruit before!

Our final activity was a playdough volcano. I told Lani about some of the theories of dinosaur extinction, including an Ice Age and volcanos, but she was waaaay more interested in seeing how the volcano was goin to play out. We didn't have nearly as much playdough as we needed to make the whole volcano (this took place before I discovered how ridiculously easy it is to make large batches of playdough at home), but this was by far the biggest hit of a pretty popular day! This is the site from which I got the instructions:

Their volcano is *much* prettier than mine, but I'm pretty sure it didn't matter . . . anything that can keep a 4-year-old entertained for over an hour is gold on a tray!
All in all, this day was a huge success. I've tried to have some other themed learning in the meantime, but I've found that when I stretch activities/themes out over a week, the end result isn't as exciting. I think one jam-packed day (maybe two) a week, is best. The rest of the days are filled with splash pads, beach days, and everything else that summer should be about!

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