As part of my overall plan for the year, I am incorporating monthly themes into our work and we recently finished our first one! This past month, our theme was Dinosaurs and it provided a great backdrop for our learning and lots of fun.
In all fairness, this was not M’s favorite theme but J was totally into it and it was a great way to engage him in school activities. I definitely recommend this theme, especially if you are looking for ways to include little ones in the learning.
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One of the best parts about the theme was that I purchased almost nothing for this it, using things we already had on hand as well as some great resources from the library. The only thing I did buy was this set of mini dinosaurs to use. They were pretty inexpensive considering how many dinosaurs are included and they were put to use in so many different ways this month. I definitely think it was worth it! Now that the unit is over, I put them away to use in the future as a math manipulative!
Here’s a look at what we did…
Reading is by far the most important component to our learning, regardless of age or subject. It is a great way to learn about new topics or ideas and snuggled up reading is always a fun way to spend a morning. I set up a basket of dinosaur themed books at the beginning of the month and not a day went by without us pulling one or two out to read. I highly recommend this as a way to gently encourage your kids to explore books they may not otherwise notice.
Some of our favorites this month were:
This was a great theme for our house since we already owned a number of dinosaur activities, including a few puzzles! I had two dinosaur puzzles for the kids, one was perfect for J and the other was more challenging for M. They’ve done them multiple times in the past already but we love puzzles in our house so nobody was complaining.
The mini dinosaurs proved to be the perfect tool for working on math this month. Using the dinosaurs, M worked on word problems.
She then sorted them by type, grouping each “family” together. She counted how many dinosaurs were in each family as well as how many different families there were. The dinosaurs were a great visual tool, allowing her to notice similarities and differences between the different types.
Dinosaur Train show – Dinosaurs A to Z
For those of you not familiar, Dinosaur Train is a really cute PBS television show. My kids all love the show and even have Buddy and Tiny stuffed animals to go along with it. This month, we watched the Dinosaur A to Z episodes, which includes a catchy song about 26 species of dinosaurs (1 for each letter). There was no way they were going to memorize each of the species but it still exposed them to a wide variety of dinosaur names.
DIY Fossils (salt dough recipe)
As part of our unit, we decided to make our own fossils. This was a surprisingly easy project that my kids both LOVED making. I was inspired by this post and our final creations came out pretty good!
You can use any salt dough recipe to make these. Once the dough is made, separate into smaller balls of dough and let the kids roll each one out. Then push the dinosaur figurine into the dough to make an imprint. Bake the fossils in the oven until dry (depending on the thickness, it can take up to 3 hours!).
Once they come out of the oven and cool, let your kids paint them to look more realistic. I put out green and brown paint for the kids. I knew if I didn’t limit the color options M would have created pink fossils! They kids loved looking at their fossils and comparing the different dinosaur figurines, trying to figure out which one matched each fossil.
Dinosaurs in Play Dough
The mini dinosaurs came back out for some free play in play dough one afternoon. This was a great activity that both M and J could be involved in equally.
We had so much fun making our own fossils earlier in the month, I decided to surprise the kids by making edible fossils one night after they went to bed. After lunch the next day, I told them I made some fossils I wanted to show them. M noticed right away there was something different about these fossils and asked if they were cookies. She also seemed a little concerned that dinosaurs came to life after she went to sleep so I had to reassure her that I made them, not actual dinosaurs. They were a tasty treat for the afternoon though!
To make your own fossil cookies, follow whatever sugar cookie recipe you prefer. Once the sugar cookies come out of the oven, take the dinosaur figurine and “stomp” on the cookie. I used two different size dinosaurs to make different tracts. I’m definitely not a food blogger so don’t mind the horrible pictures but the kids were impressed and that’s all that matters!
Be a Paleontologist
If you’re looking for a fun activity and don’t mind things getting a little messy, these are great excavation kits that let your kids dig for their own dinosaur bones (plastic of course!) Each kit has between 8-10 bones buried in it. We’ve done these kits with minerals before and seeing the reaction as they unearth their treasure is great!
Dance parties happen almost daily in our house. This month I tried to incorporate some dinosaur themed songs that had us stomping and roaring throughout the house. I’d recommend:
We had fun with dinosaurs this month but I was glad to put it away and get ready for our next unit… the solar system. Don’t forget to follow our adventures so you don’t miss it!