Do you know a child that is obsessed with dinosaurs? If so, these dinosaur activities are perfect for developing skills through play. Or, use the dino activities to teach dinosaurs to preschoolers, kindergarteners, and older students learning about the dinosaur age. If your kiddos are anything like mine, then dinosaurs are a year round theme that never disappoints! Finding new and engaging activities to meet that “just right” challenge, while staying on-theme, can be quite the task. We have collected a variety of free dinosaur-themed activities to add to your repertoire for all the aspiring paleontologists in your life. Use these to satisfy fine motor, gross motor, handwriting, vision, and sensory integration interventions.
Best of all, when kids are interested in learning about dinosaurs, these ideas can use these ideas to encourage multi-sensory play through learning! Add these movement and play activities to introduce a dinosaur theme in the classroom or home.
Dinosaur FINE MOTOR ACTIVITIES
For kids that love all thing dinosaurs, these dinosaur fine motor activities develop motor skill dexterity and coordination through play. Whether it’s tracing dinosaurs, creating a dinosaur craft, or handling tools in a dinosaur dig, these fine motor activities are fun!
Here’s the thing: fine motor skills are used every single day! They are integral to just about every occupation and a big part of what occupational therapists work on in their treatment sessions. Use the activities below to increase skills like handwriting, buttoning, zipping, typing, and more! Why NOT incorporate dinosaur fun into fine motor development?!
- Encourage pencil control with these free Dinosaur Line Tracing sheets, or with this free download, Dinosaur Path Tracing.
- Use these Dinosaur Letter Cards with theraputty, Play-Doh, Wikki Stix, etc., to challenge those small intrinsic hand muscles and develop form constancy.
- Strengthen scissors skills – and benefit fine motor control – with these Dinosaur Cutting Activities.
Dinosaur GROSS MOTOR ACTIVITIES
Stomping like brontosaurus, crashing like a T-Rex, and running like a velociraptor means that dinosaur gross motor skills encourage coordination, balance, endurance, and motor planning skills!
Gross motor movements are made by the “big” muscles in the body. Gross motor control allows for walking, running, bending, stooping, balance, and many other skills that we use every day. Not only are these movements great for a child’s development of strength and coordination, but they also strengthen the connection between the brain and the body – so, get those bodies moving with dinosaur fun!
- Use these ideas to have Dinosaur Brain Break. This activity encourages various gross motor movements: stomping, crashing, jumping, balancing, and more.
- Develop your own movements, or use the options provided, to meet therapy goals in a Dinosaur Movement Game. These free printables can be used in so many ways to develop gross motor skills.
- Use dinosaur feet to stomp, sneak, crawl, or tiptoe! Draw dinosaur feet onto paper. Place them around the room to create a dinosaur footprints path where kids can look for the next prehistoric footprint. They can hop, crawl, creep, or tiptoe along the dino footprint path!
- Change up your wording for these exercises to dinosaur-themed ones:
- Tight-rope walking → Velociraptor Tip Toe
- Boat Pose → Fallen Over T-Rex
- Frog Jumps → Dinosaur Jumps
- Flamingo/tree pose → Flying Pterodactyl
- Bear Crawl → Creeping Stegosaurus
The beauty of dinosaur crafts is that they build fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, motor planning, executive functioning skills, visual motor skills, and more. All of these skills are developed through the process of creating. Best of all, when a child prefers dinosaurs as an interest, they have ownership and a sense of self-confidence with a dinosaur craft that they are proud of!
Try adding these ideas to your dinosaur theme:
- Make a cupcake liner dinosaur craft. Fold the cupcake liner in half. Then use it as a dinosaur head or back. Cut out smaller pieces of paper to add details like legs, scales, a long neck, or a long tail.
- Draw dinosaur feet. Cut them out and trace onto paper. Then, you can use those dinosaur feet to make a path for gross motor play such as a balance beam.
- Make a handprint dinosaur craft. Press the hand into green paint. Press the handprint onto paper. Then add details like an eye, long legs, a long neck, and googly eyes.
- Make a dinosaur paper plate craft. Cut a paper plate in half to make a dinosaur’s back. Then add legs and triangles along the back. Add a small face and tail and you’ve got a stegosaurus craft that develops scissor skills.
Dinosaur HANDWRITING Activities
For older kids, a dinosaur theme still works! There are many ways to incorporate dinosaur literacy activities, dino letter recognition, and letter formation into handwriting tasks. Some of these include dinosaur worksheets, but others do not. That’s the beauty of these ideas: you can use what you’ve got on hand to meet the individual needs of a child or classroom.
Handwriting is one of the most important skills of a child. Legible handwriting is integral to the success of a student, as so much of their work is presented through written material. Occupational therapists in the schools often assist students and teachers on this subject, including working on visual and motor skills to perfect the skill of handwriting.
- To develop visual discrimination skills and letter form constancy, check out this Dinosaur Letter Tracing activity idea – so cute!
- Form constancy is one skill that is necessary to understand letters and use them to write words and sentences (and to read!). Form constancy is the idea that any given letter or shape continues to be the same even when written in another environment or at an angle. For example, the letter “A” is still the letter “A” when written in a different font, on a piece of paper, or on the chalkboard.
- Matching uppercase to lowercase letters is a great way to assess a child’s understanding in preparation for writing with the correct letter case. It can be hard to remember – especially for letters that aren’t obvious. These Dinosaurs can help make the hard work fun!
- This on-theme printable handwriting book gives kids the opportunity to trace, copy, and independently write upper and lower case letters.
Dinosaur VISION Activities
When it comes to adding dinosaur visual perceptual skills to play, the theme can go many ways. Use one of our dino worksheets, OR create a table-top vision activity using toy dinosaurs. These ideas are open-ended!
Vision is a highly complex skill – it is not just about if you need to wear glasses or not! Visual processing is the connection between the brain and the visual environment. Sometimes the way that the brain processes that visual information is not very clear, that’s where an OT can step in! Use these activities to challenge visual processing skills.
- This Dinosaur Print Matching activity can assess and address visual processing concerns, but make you feel like you are an archaeologist.
- Visual discrimination for the beginner: Spot the Difference and for the more advanced: Eye Can Learn.
- Address Visual perception with this super-cute free printable, Dinosaur Visual Perception Worksheet.
- For a virtual option, check out this interactive game!
- Here are some more vision activities for kids!
Dinosaur SENSORY Activities
Dinosaur sensory bins, messy fossil digs, dino small world play, and sculpting dinosaur eggs…these sensory play ideas build skills!
Sensory processing skills are used to define the world around us – we explore our environment through sight, feel, taste, smell, and our body position. Increasing sensory awareness can improve body awareness and understanding of our environment, which can in turn help us adjust and feel comfortable. Below are some great options to explore our senses!
- Add heavy work for body awareness, self-regulation, attention, and whole body movements with these dinosaur proprioception activities. They are great for sensory seekers and addressing interoception needs.
- These Egg Carton Dinosaurs use bumpy muffin cups, smooth googly eyes, soft and sharp pipe cleaners, and of course, an egg carton (so many different textures possible here) to give a multi-textured experience while defining fine motor skills.
- Make a paper mache dinosaur egg- Mix up messy, textural paper mache with paper, flower, and water and sculpt an egg around a balloon. Let it dry and then pop the balloon. Now you can decorate your dinosaur egg!
- Have dinosaur figures, or mini dino toys? Use them to create a dinosaur small world for pretend play, self-confidence, self-talk, and problem solving.
- Tearing paper has always been one of my go-to activities to address fine motor and sensory concerns. This easy Tissue Paper Dinosaur activity can increase texture tolerance in a way your dinosaur-lover will appreciate.
- Make a dinosaur sensory bin on a train table, or in a large bin. Add materials like dry beans, corn, or shredded paper. Or add messy wet materials like slime, water beads, water, or shaving cream.
- Use a fossil dig activity for dry sensory play. Kids can chisel and chip away at a chalky substance to find dinosaur bones. Then, use the pieces to trace and make their own fossils for more fine motor, sensory fun.
- Can’t forget the sensorimotor activities! Dinosaur dance parties, dinosaur stomping, dinosaur copycat, the options are endless.
Dinosaur Self-Awareness Activities
Some of the previously highlighted activities incorporate a sense of self-awareness, including the heavy work activities, and sensory play ideas. But to take self-awareness and celebrating the differences among us, is this book, Dinosaurs are Different.
The book is a silly take that celebrates all of our differences and can be a fun dinosaur tool to address skills such as self-awareness, body awareness, internal differences and external differences in all of us.
Use this book to incorporate into mindfulness with kids, grounding techniques, discussions on emotional awareness, social skill development, and responsibility exercises with kids.
I always love to include books in our themed activities, as a way to encourage an early love of reading, but also to further develop the understanding of our topic. As you can imagine, there are TONS of dinosaur books available to further explore your dinosaur theme.
Here are some dinosaur books and related activities to get started:
- Kids LOVE Mo Willems, and his book, Goldilocks and the 3 Dinosaurs is a hit! Add motor skill development with this Goldilocks and the 3 Dinosaurs activity hands-on book inspired play activity with mini dinosaur figures.
- Encourage important gross motor skills with Stomp! Like A Dinosaur: A Movement Book
- Dinosaurs Are Different for understanding opposites, emotions, and building self-esteem.
- For the kids who love fun-facts: 1,000 Facts About Dinosaurs, Fossils, and Prehistoric Life. Challenge their memory!
- How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? Be sure to check out all the books in the series! They can help with skills like manners, asking for help, and cleaning their room!
Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.