Dinosaur Dig Sensory Activity for Toddler and Preschoolers

My son might just be turning two but he knows what he loves- DINOSAURS! This lead me down a rabbit hole of all things dino.

Example of a tuff tray activity we did with dinosaur puzzle pieces to play with for hours.

I included all our favorite activities we did below. There are endless products and toys that can be bought for this unit, and yet I always think simple play is best. Think of your child’s birthday, you buy expensive, beautiful toys and in less than a week their new favorite toy is the cardboard box the toy came in. Therefore, I challenged myself to only buy a few items for this unit of study. Then as my son grows up, we can always add more things we find. I’ll update this post as we do more and MORE dinosaur activities. 🦕🦖🌳

Dinosaur Dig Sensory Bin Discoveries 

Since my children have become obsessed with dinosaurs one of the books that they loved reading was Barenstein Bear’s Dinosaur Dig. This book was longer than most for my toddler to sit through, and yet he loved the illustrations and the example dinosaurs and sat through the entire book. Ok, he didn’t sit. I kept asking him to run and find the dinosaur toys he has as we would turn the page and identify more Dinos on each page. He kept laughing and running. It turned out to be a simple, perfect way to keep him engaged. 

Materials For the Dinosaur Dig Sensory Bin

  • Books to identify dinosaurs (I used Barenstein Bear’s Dinosaur Dig, but we also grabbed Big Dinosaurs to help see bigger photos).
  • Flashcards to identify dinosaurs (I used dollar store dino cards)
  • Tool kit: wooden tweezers, old toothbrushes, magnifying glass, scoops, sifters, and different size paint brushes
  • Dinosaur figurines to match and help identify fossil Dinos (Ours were dollar finds at Target).
  • Sensory bin filler: Sand, green sand, painted chickpeas, split peas, and glass gems (If you have a toddler under 3, just sand would still be fun).
  • Dinosaur fossil figurines ( I used ten, so it could turn into a simple math activity to practice math fluency)

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Read Aloud Ideas 

While reading Dinosaur Dig with your young learner, pause to point out dinosaurs in the book your child can identify. If they have dinosaur toys they can compare and contrast to ones in the book, I recommend bringing them over while you read and let your child try and match with the book when possible. 

I practiced saying the dinosaur’s names with my children and point out how the book helps with the names’ pronunciation. 

Prepare Sensory Bin 

I used two bins for this activity. 

The first bin will eventually hold the discovered fossils, dinosaur cards, books for matching fossils to dinosaur names. A simple toddler-friendly book for identifying dinosaurs is Stomp, Dinosaur, Stomp. 

Start setting up the second bin by placing ten fossil dinosaurs on the bottom of the container. Then on top of the fossil figurines, add colored sand, glass gems, painted chickpeas, split peas until the fossils are hidden.

Sensory Play Activities 

Make sure your child makes a connection to the dinosaur book(s) you read to them to what they will get to explore in this sensory bin activity. 

Allow them at least 10 minutes of just inquiry, free play. If they do not notice the different types of dinosaur figurines, then show them a connection between the book dinosaurs and the hidden dino you discover. 

For a simple matching game, have your child match a flashcard dinosaur card, dinosaur figure, and the dinosaur fossil.

Additional Activities for Dinosaur Discovery Fun

  • Add playdough and let your child see the fossils imprint into the dough.
  • Let your child draw their observations in a journal.
  • Scoop the materials into a jar to show layers of the earth.
  • Use salt dough and make your fossils for a follow-up activity and have them excavate in another sensory bin with the same materials or just sand.

Another activity was using a tuff tray and putting together painted chickpeas, recycled packing filler, sand, split peas, and stones. This simple layered set-up my kids played with for hours using dinosaur puzzle pieces and dinosaur figurines.

I hope you enjoyed our dinosaur activities. Below are more activities that I have used with my children with other themes.

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