Friday, 14 March 2014

Dinosaur activities: sensory play

Dinosaur activities: sensory play
I used to hate mornings. The past month or so, I've started getting up before my entire family, which means I've been getting up early. Ridiculously early. Like 5 am early. I have to say though, as much as used to be not a morning person, I've been loving it. I can usually count on having about an hour or hour and a half to slowly sip my coffee while having my me time. This means I either work out or work on blogland stuff. It's wonderful. 

This morning however, the Toddler decided that 4.30 in the morning is an awesome time to be awake. So, I dragged my tired self out of bed, made some mud really strong coffee, and got some early morning/late night cuddles in. Awesome! Insanely early, even for me, but those cuddles are always worth it. 

Anyway, now that the Toddler is down for a nap at 7 in the morning, I wanted to share a quick activity we set up yesterday. We've been loving dinosaur activities, and I actually have several more in mind for next week's tot school. For this one, I made some homemade 'dirt' with the help of my assistant/the Toddler.

Here's the recipe for homemade 'dirt'

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons cacao
  • Mix 
  • To make the darker dirt, I took half of the above mixture, and added three tablespoons of peanut butter to it  
I also added a bunch of dried chickpeas to represent a lot pterodactyl eggs. 

Viola! One of the toddlers favourite dinosaur activities - sensory play with some homemade dirt!

So what did we learn from our sensory play? 


I'm amazed that I can say that I am teaching my child math, but I am! In multiple ways, too!

First, we had to measure all of the ingredients in order to make our dirt. The Toddler loved helping me to pour, and listened very attentively when I said things like 'Oh! We've reach 1 cup!' He would then very carefully, help me to pour our oats or flour in the bowl I had prepared. 

We also got to work on counting. As the Toddler picked out the chickpeas from the bin, and sorted them into a small bucket, I would count how many he had taken out. When he would pour them back into the sensory bin, we'd start over. 


Language development has been a major concern for me. Because the Toddler is exposed to three (yes! three!) languages at home, it's been really important for me to make sure that he is developing his communication skills through speech (in his dominant language). For now, his dominant language is Russian, but I'm also noticing that even though he is picking up new words all the time, he is doing this slowly. 

Because of my concerns, I've been working on language a lot. Sensory activities like this are a great opportunity for exploring new words. One of the ways to teach toddlers new words is by letting them experience what the word is. That's what we did! We experienced words like flaky, powder, dinosaur, hard. We really put emphasis on learning the Russian word for dinosaur, which the Toddler was able to repeat as 'Dino' (dinozabr in Russian).

I also exposed him to full sentences by expanding on the words he was using. For example, the Toddler said more after I had dumped a few chickpeas into the bin. Then I asked him, 'would you like me to add more chickpeas?' 


The opportunities to develop cognitive skills through sensory play are seemingly infinite! Seriously, there is so much learning to be done through sensory play! 

Our homemade dirt helped to teach the Toddler cause and effect. By adding peanut butter to the loose mixture we had created, we learned that it becomes more sticky, and can be moulded into different shapes. 

We also learned about gravity. When we poured the loose dirt through a funnel, it would instantly slide down. We compared dropping a handful of dirt and a handful of chickpeas. We talked about which fell faster

Fine motor skills

The Toddler worked on picking up chickpeas, and even flakes of oats! This is really good for developing his fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. 

To top all of this off, we also got to engage our senses- sight, smell (from the cacao), taste (tried a bit of peanut butter), touch (different textures), and hearing (dropping the chickpeas versus the oats).

Overall, this proved to be such an educational activity, but so simple to set up! Who would have thought that simply playing around in some cacao and oats could provide so many opportunities for learning. That's why I love sensory activities like this dinosaur bin - the Toddler thinks he's playing, but really, we're learning! 

For more tot school activities and toddler fun, visit my Toddler activities page. 

Don't forget to stop by my tot school Pinterest board, too: 

Today, I am excited to be linking up with Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations

Homeschool Preschool: Preschool and Kindergarten Community linkup at Homeschool Creations

And Emma at P is for Preschooler

We Love Weekends (WOW) logo

Thank you for visiting,