My little gal, V, loves dinosaurs. It began during her potty training reading when she devoured all of Jane Yolen and Mark Teague’s “How Do Dinosaurs…” collection. We had a stack of about seven of these titles that we had to read during every potty trip, until I got smart and snuck a few out of the room.
It continued as she memorized the entire story of Paul and Henrietta Stickland’s Dinosaur Roar. We have video of her sitting on the potty reading this title in the same intonations as I do…”dinosaur clean and dinosaur SLIMY!” We checked this one out from the library and ended up buying a copy for ourselves because it became such a favorite.
At a recent trip to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, we got to see a dinosaur exhibit that somewhat befuddled V, as she had only seen dinosaurs wearing their skins in books, and did not quite know what to make of the collection of bones standing before her. However, Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones by Byron Barton shows the entire process of excavating, transporting, assembling, and seeing the finished exhibit of dinosaur ones in a very toddler friendly story.
At the Natural History Museum, we purchased a copy of First Look at Dinosaurs by the Smithsonian Institution. This simple book talks about different types of dinosaurs (ones that ate leaves, ones that fly, ones that hunted, ones with horns, ones with plates and clubs) in a very simple fashion with fun and non-threatening pictures. V loves to read this age appropriate title, and says that the mommy Stegosaurus with her eggs is a picture of me, “Dat’s you!” (Obviously because we are both mommies…you know. I love how toddlers think!)
Another great dinosaur title that can be read to both young and school aged children is Dinosaurs Roar, Butterflies Soar by Bob Barner. With abstract pictures of dinos, the book tells the story of how dinosaurs and butterflies co-existed until the extinction of the dinosaurs (or as V says, “Dinosaurs are stinked.” Each page includes additional facts for older children to read that can be left out when reading to toddlers. There is a great timeline in the back of the book that shows the emergence of dinosaurs, butterflies, animals, and humans on Earth.
Finally, with V’s playgroup, we were able to journey to a local kitschy destination, “Dinosaur Land.” Dinosaur Land is a big old yard filled with life-sized replica statues of dinosaurs. I was initially unsure whether V would be intimidated by the size and “scary” demeanor of the statues, but was soon put at ease as she raced around them with her friends, even climbing onto the hand of the giant King Kong replica that for some reason was a part of the outdoor exhibit.
She loved the experience of playing among the dinosaurs and recently embarked on an imaginary adventure to Dinosaur Land in a pretend boat she made out of her step stool. V’s favorite dinosaur is the Elizabeth Bennett of the dinosaur world, “Tyrannosaurus Rex!” We’ll be going back with Daddy to visit the dinosaurs soon!
Another activity I have heard of, but have yet to try, is digging for dinosaur bones. There are play kits that include replica dinosaur bones and sand so that kids can dig and find the bones. I imagine you could be creative and make something of the sort with popsicle sticks and sand or play figures. Please feel free to share any dinosaur related activity ideas in the comments section below!