We're continuing with Dinosaur week for Storybook Summer and have a taste safe dinosaur sensory bin for your little ones to play with based on the book If you Happen to have a Dinosaur. Taste safe and edible sensory bins are one of the best ways for young children to work on fine motor skills in play as well as get the different sensory inputs. In the past, we have used taste safe pretend mud to create some dinosaur fossils and used jelly and oats in a taste safe ocean sensory bin.
We welcome Alana from Parenting from the Heart to Rainy Day Mum to give you the ideas for the Sensory Bin and talk about channeling disappointing visits into something productive with kids.
Disappointment to FUN!
On Friday, I accompanied my two children’s classes on their end-of-the-year field trip. A friend offered to drive me and the baby and we would follow the bus. Our respective kids decided to join us and we were off.
We set out for the hour-and-a-half drive to the dinosaur site. With four kids and a baby in toe. The sun was shining and the kids were excited as none of us had been to this tourist spot before.
About 20 minutes into the drive, the kids got restless. Soon the seating arrangement wasn’t right, staying quiet enough so that the baby could sleep too hard, and the drive was already “way too long.” When we finally arrived, both my friend and I breathed a big sigh of relief. The kids, thrilled to be there and explore, were jumping up and down.
I gathered the group of kids assigned to me and went through the entry gates.
Now, I’m a big kid at heart and love any chance for hands-on learning and/ or learning outside. But what I saw before me was, well, disappointing. We stood before a massive field with a handful of poorly painted, chipped life size dinosaurs and that was it.
I looked at my friend and said, “I’m going to go back in and grab a brochure because I think I’m missing something.” She laughed “Oh no, this is it.”
The kids took a quick a few minutes to examine the dinosaurs and we were done. The information on the plaques was too advanced for five and six-year-olds so we did our best to make it kid-friendly. About fifteen minutes in, the dinos had lost their charm.
Fortunately, the park was filled with different caterpillars, cocoons, and butterflies. So we switch from our brief stint as paleontologists to entomologists and all was well.
Find Even More Inspiration for Dinosaur Activities Ideal for doing with Toddlers and Preschoolers HERE!
Storybook Summer Featured Book If you Happen to Have a Dinosaur
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Once home, I felt like we had missed out on really exploring and understanding dinosaurs in the way I anticipated. I wanted to teach the kids more by setting up fun dinosaur activities. So I grabbed some of our dinosaur books including the book, If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur.
It’s perfect for my kids’ ages because it uses humour and intrigue while depicting actual dinosaurs. Just the opening alone had my kids laughing. “If you happen to have a dinosaur lying around your living room and you don’t know what to do with it… maybe you could use it as a can opener.”
On that page, it shows a cartoon image of a triceratops opening a can of tomatoes.
They loved it.
When we had finished reading, I printed off my dinosaur activities package and the kids coloured triceratopses, T-rexes and more.
Wanting to revisit the book that made them laugh so much, we made a sensory bin inspired by If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur!
Taste Safe Dinosaur Sensory Bin
The book suggests another great use for dinosaurs is to use them as a coffee grinder, nut cracker, or potato masher.
Inspired by this, we collected some very tired looking potatoes I forgot in garage, some food colouring and my kids’ plastic dinosaur figurines. Here is how to recreate the fun at home yourselves.
Why not check out some of our Book Themed Sensory Bins to encourage your toddler and preschooler with reading as well!
What you need for your Prehistoric Sensory Bin
- 4-5 large potatoes
- Potato peeler - we love this Kids Safe Potato Peeler which is ceramic rather than metal
- Knife - Kids Safe Nylon Knives is what we would recommend if you would like your children to help with preparing the sensory bin
- Bowls/ containers
- Food colouring
- Bin - we recommend a storage box for using with sensory bins you can add a lid and store it to come out again at a later date.
- Dinosaur figurines
- Kitchen utensils (optional)
How to Set up your Dinosaur Sensory Tub
- Peel potatoes
- Roughly cut into cubes
- Boil potatoes on stove
- Choose number of food colouring colours you’d like to use
- Separate boiled potatoes into the number of colours selected
- Drop food colouring on potatoes and mix
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 until desired colour is achieved
- Let potatoes cool completely - food colouring also sets during this time
- Place in sensory bin with plastic dinos
- Add kitchen utensils for extra mashing fun.
Though the food colouring should set into the potatoes and not dye hands, if it does, use this technique.
Alternative Sensory Bin Fillers for your Dinosaur Fun!
If you would prefer to skip the potatoes, other alternatives to this sensory bin based on the story If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur include:
- Using dried lentils as the coffee beans - they won’t smash but they are fun to play with.
- Stale cereal as something to crush with the dinosaur toys.
- Collect grass trimmings and leaves along with dinosaur figurines to recreate the screen about the dinosaurs mowing your lawn.
- Or, add topsoil to a bin and let kids dig with dinosaurs.
Days later, we are still enjoying finding more ways to explore and learn about dinosaurs. We hope you enjoy this too.