Although we tend to think of dinosaurs as being fierce and large creatures it's amazing the diversity that they have. In the past, we've used this diversity for ordering by size using our toy dinosaurs and by classifying what they eat using their teeth. For the final day of this year's dinosaur week on Storybook Summer, we have another fun way to classify and sort our dinosaurs as we learn some new science terminology and put into practice the math skill of sorting. This Dinosaur Legs and Feet Sorting Activity is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers as well as reinforcing language as a quick starter with older children.
Stomping and roaring and gnashing of impossibly large teeth - how could kids not be fascinated by dinosaurs? My twins were drawn in by the diversity of immense and interesting dinosaurs when they were preschoolers. I love finding books and activities to build learning into their interests and this was such a fun theme to explore with them.
Storybook Summer Featured Book Dinosaur Roar!
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One of our favorite Dinosaur books was Dinosaur Roar written by Paul & Henrietta Stickland. I love Dinosaur Roar because not only does it's rhyming text lends itself well to reading aloud but it also introduces opposites kids in a fun way. There are many good dinosaur books, but this is a fun one to use with this Dinosaur Sorting Activity.
I have loved this book since I was a toddler teacher and my own kids have enjoyed it for years. It is great for toddlers because it is short, rhymes, and introduces some excellent vocabulary words - including a ton of opposite words. It turns out it also works as a great choral reading book for a preschool dinosaur unit. We read this several times a week together to work on recognizing some sight words, identifying rhyming words, and more.
We read Dinosaur Roar aloud several times before uses it to inspire this Sorting and Classifying Math activity for preschoolers.
Materials Needed for your Dinosaur Feet and Legs Sorting Activity
Scissors (for adult use)
Setting up your Bipedal and Quadrupedal Sorting Activity with Dinosaurs
- Before doing this activity with kids, prepare by gathering materials.
- Then cut three circles from construction paper of different colors.
- Put these circles near your mini-dinosaurs.
Note: If you want to re-use these circles you may wish to laminate them for durability.
Playing with this Dinosaur Classification Activity
My preschoolers wanted to play with the dinosaurs the moment they saw them and then ended up sorting them into pairs based on the type of dinosaurs. They remembered the term "classifying" and used this while they were playing.
When I'm introducing a new material I always like to start with some free play time first. This allows me to see what my kids will naturally do with the materials AND it let's them explore and get to know the material (the dinosaurs in this case) before I ask them to focus on learning a particularly concept.
Once they had played for a while I pulled out the circles I had prepared.
First, I modeled sorting some of the dinosaurs into quadrapeds and bipeds on two of the circles.
Then I asked my twins what made the dinosaurs on the yellow circle the same and the blue circle different. They said "Two legs and four legs!" I agreed with them and introduced the words "quadrapeds" and "bipeds" to them naturally in our conversation about the dinosaurs as I asked them if they wanted to help me finish sorting the rest of the dinosaurs.
Next, when we were done sorting by two and four legs, we cleared off the circles and then I asked how else they thought we could sort the dinosaurs.
They weren't sure so we pulled out Dinosaur Roar and I turned to the page about leaf eaters. My twins quickly suggested we could sort them by meat eaters and plant eaters.
After they figured it out, we sorted them in different ways; color, by whether they fly, by how big they are, etc.
How to Extend the Learning
This activity was super simple to prepare and engaged my preschoolers in sorting, classifying and conversation about Dinosaur characteristics for over 30 minutes. I love putting materials together like this on their play shelves for a week or so after we do an activity so they can come back to it and repeat the activity on their own if they wish. Why not set up our water table dinosaur small world play at the same time to provide another activity for your toddlers and preschoolers to complete as you finish of this Dinosaur Week for Storybook Summer.
Erin Buhr is a writer, blogger, and twin mama who has worked in Early Childhood Education for over 15 years. Her blog, My Storytime Corner, shares children's books, book inspired activities for kids, and tips for raising readers. She currently lives in San Diego with her husband and 7 year old twins.