Everyone loves dinosaurs, right? These activities are a great way of getting children engaged and their imaginations racing. Plus you can link in the different areas of learning in both the Early Years Foundation Stage in England, and the Foundation Phase in Wales.
Start by freezing toy dinosaurs into blocks of water, you can use anything from Tupperware or moulds for this. If you want to add an extra level of excitement, freeze the dinosaurs in a balloon filled with water to create egg shapes.
Place the frozen dinosaur blocks somewhere outside so that the children can watch them melt.
Using touch, to explore the ice, coordination in large and small movements.
Having a talk about how the ice feels, what it's doing and using all the new words to describe it.
Talk about ice and water, give opportunities for investigations of the natural world, and link to everyday life.
Encourage children to rub the ice to help it start to melt; make sure to ask the children about what is happening and encourage them to explain it in their own words, introducing new vocabulary where you can.
Using touch, their motor skills and movement to rub the ice.
Talking and learning about melting, the changing states of water & ice and the seasons.
Using new words and talking about their senses.
Stamping on ice
Stamping on the ice is an excellent way to learn about ice. Ask children to first tell you what they think might happen, and afterwards what did happen. Help them to fully stamp the dinosaur out of the ice. Make sure that children are wearing suitable footwear, of course.
Using touch, coordination in large and small movements.
Developing new words to explain experiences, promoting understanding of words and connections of ideas.
Salt and ice
Sprinkling salt over ice is a way to speed up the melting process, as it raises the melting temperature of ice. Let them become archeologists, using sprinkled and poured salt to help discover the dinosaurs hidden in the ice.
Looking at the speed of melting, the reactions of salt and the changing states of water & ice.
Using new words to describe what they can observe.
Developing their fine motor skills to sprinkle or pour the salt, and using touch.
This activity is wonderful for gross motor skills, and children love dropping the ice blocks. Make sure they talk about how to safely drop them and encourage them to do it until they have finally freed the dinosaur.
Using touch, motor skills, movement and hand-eye coordination to throw or drop the ice.
Thinking about forces (will dropping the ice block from higher up help?) and different surfaces to break the ice.
Using new words, explaining what happens, responding to sounds
This lovely activity follows on nicely from the ice exploration. Make a simple biscuit mixture and encourage the children to get involved with mixing and rolling out the dough. Use dino-shaped cookie cutters to create a range of dinosaur biscuits.
Once cut, use this opportunity to discuss the different shape, sizes and even noises that each dinosaur might make! When they're baked and cooled, a drizzle of white icing looks like dinosaur skeletons.
Talking through and following instructions, discussing what they are making and sharing with others.
Discussing how biscuits are cooked. Consider flavouring the biscuits with spices from different parts of the world.
Using movement, touch and senses to roll and mix the ingredients. Tasting the finished biscuits, and appreciating a healthy eating balance.
Using scales, measure and consistency when cooking. Estimating quantities.
Decorating and shaping the dinosaurs.
Using the ingredients to introduce new sounds and even letter formations.
For more information about the different areas of learning, download our EYFS poster and Foundation Phase poster or the EYFS statutory framework for further guidance. And if you're cooking, make sure you're up-to-date with your food hygiene course.
All photos - Theresa Holland.