Montessori Dinosaur unit: 15+ activities to try

Join me on a fun-filled adventure back to the time of dinosaurs with some exciting Montessori activities for our little explorers. From captivating books that open the doors to the past, to playful games that test their dino knowledge, I've gathered the best Montessori-inspired activities to spark their curiosity and love for these ancient creatures. Dinosaurs are not just fascinating; they're the giants of the past that we don't have to fear.

They introduce our children to the concept of pre-history, helping them understand the difference between what once was and what is now. With real-life evidence of dinosaurs' existence, this topic becomes a hands-on, immersive experience. So, let's dive into a world where learning about these magnificent creatures brings history to life, making it a tangible and exciting journey for our young ones. Together, we'll explore activities that not only educate but also entertain, turning every discovery into an opportunity for growth and imagination.

Books about Dinosaurs:

I've selected my favourite books about Dinosaurs:

  • National Geographic uses "realistic" pictures. Although, we are still not sure what dinosaurs look like! There are more and more "evidences" that dinosaurs had feathers and there is new branch of paleontology that can now, with more advanced technology, study the colour of fossiled animals, it is called "paleocolour". (see this article)
  • Usborne books make studying dinosaur fun and I love how they make such a complex topic accessible to children. This one with the lift the flap feature is a good starting point.
  • You cannot studying dinosaurs without introducing your child to fossils! And if you are in the UK, don't forget to discuss Mary Anning! This story book is perfect for young children as a way to introduce her story and her findings. Then go on vacation on the Jurassic coast!
  •  And here is the complete list of Dinosaur books I recommend!

Games and other ressources:

Dinosaurs is such a popular topic that it is used in many games and toys! The picture above is from one my son's favourite game when he was a toddler. Of course, it's not realistic but a fun way to explore shapes and colours. (it's this Orchard toy)

For a more realistic approach of the topic, I recommend:

- the Dinosaur safari toobs that you can find on Yes Bebe.  For your info, we used the safari toobs as a guide to create our 30 Montessori 3-part cards of Dinosaurs, included in our Montessori Dinosaur box.

- the Dino skull toob that you can also find on Yes Bebe: you can match the skull to the corresponding Dinosaurs (either a replica or a picture). You can also use the skulls in a digging activity.

- Melissa and Doug Dinosaur puzzles. These are great for the youngest ones.

- More advanced and more "realistic" dinosaur puzzle.

Matching games with 3-part cards:

Use Montessori 3-part cards to learn the name of the dinosaurs and as a matching game.

Sorting by diet:

Learn about animal diet and explain what is herbivore, omnivore and carnivore. You can apply this to human diet. Look at the features of carnivores (claws, sharp teeth) and compare to herbivores features. Can they name contemporary animals that are herbivore or carnivores? 

Sorting by era:

This activity will be more suitable for an elementary age child. Once your child is very familiar with timeline and understand past, present and future, you can explore how the world looked like at the time of the dinosaurs. Then you can explain the eras and then classify dinosaurs by era. For your info, the movie Jurassic park features many dinosaurs that are not from the Jurassic era but the name was more catchy! If you want to follow the Montessori curriculum, you may want to introduce the Black strip as well as the great lessons and the clock of Era. 

Sorting by continents:

Those dinosaurs were exclusively found on some continents. Print a world map or use a puzzle map and place the dinosaur replica on the corresponding continents. Look at the information here to guide you. 

Sorting by size:

When you think of dinosaurs, we might imagine them as "giant monster". Some of them were huge of course but other were tiny and as small as a chicken! You can sort the replicas you have by size but toys are rarely at scale. So check the size of some of the most common dinosaurs and try to give a visual of their size to your children. Our 3-part cards in our Montessori box show the size of the dinosaur next to a human being. It's a fun feature that help your child to grasp the dinosaur's size. 

Some sizes:

Argentinosaurus: 39 m
Brachiosaurus: 26 m
Diplodocus: 26 m
Barosaurus: 24 m
Spinosaurus: 15 m
Tyrannosaurus rex: 12 m
Iguanodon: 10 m
Baryonyx: 10 m
Triceratops: 9 m

Look at this great activity on Math Geek Mama about comparing dinosaurs length.  

Dinosaur foot print:

Make dinosaur foot print in playdough. I think commercial playdough work better with this kind of activity or you can also use clay. Use any dinosaur toy you have and compare their footprint, carnivores will have claws while herbivore footprint will be more hoove like footprint of horses and cows. 

Dinosaur fossil kit:

They are so many ready made kit to choose from! In addition to giving the kit to your child, explore what paleontologists do in real life, the name of the tools and possibly, visit an area rich in fossils to find some yourself!

DIY fossil mold:

For an engaging DIY project, consider creating plaster dinosaur fossils using Safari Ltd. dinosaurs, play dough, and plaster of Paris. The activity involves making impressions with dinosaur figurines in play dough, then pouring plaster over to create fossil casts. Once dry, these casts can be used in play or displayed as creative artwork. For a detailed step-by-step guide and additional fun ideas, such as setting up a dinosaur dig sensory bin, check out the full tutorial at Safari Ltd's blog

Spelling dinosaur names:

Dinosaur names can be very challenging to pronounce and spell, making it a perfect activity for children who are confident readers. Provide them with the letters corresponding to a specific dinosaur, such as 'diplodocus,' and let them attempt to spell the word. Utilize 3-part cards to enhance this activity: have them select a picture of a dinosaur they're familiar with, then encourage them to spell it using tactile letters of your choice. Afterwards, they can verify their attempt with the control card.

I spy with my little eye a Dinosaur whose name start with …

I spy games are a great way to develop sound awareness. For more information about the I spy game, check out this blog post linked here.

How to play: Have some replicas or pictures of dinosaurs your child is familiar with, such as Diplodocus, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus rex, Iguanodon, and others. Then, looking at the dinosaur, say 'I spy a dinosaur whose name starts with D,' and your child should answer 'Diplodocus.' You can also play I spy focusing on dinosaur characteristics, like 'I spy a dinosaur that is a herbivore...'"

Built a skeleton:

As we know about dinosaurs mainly through their fossilized bones, it's interesting to learn about the Dinosaur skeletons. If you visit a dinosaur museum, it is mainly what you are going to see!

Your child can dig the bones then build the skeleton. Check this kit.
This matching card game is a fun way to build up the skeleton of 13 well-known dinosaurs. 

Use replica of dinosaur skeleton and match to the corresponding dinosaurs. You can also bury them to dig them out. 

Visit the National history museum and other dino attractions in the UK

In the UK, we are spoiled for choice with Dinosaur's attractions. I'm going to list just a few of my favourites:

I hope this list will give you plenty of ideas to try with your budding paleontologist!

And to explore the dinosaur topic even more, check our Montessori Dinosaur box!

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About the Author Carine Robin

Carine Robin has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, specialising in child psychology. She worked for various social services in her home country of Belgium, before moving to Ireland in 2006. It was there that she started working in a nursery and discovered Montessori education. After having her first child, her passion for the philosophy grew and she qualified as a Montessori teacher and managed a preschool. Carine has been running a Montessori based parents and toddler group and coaching families for 9 years. She now also runs an online group for over 14000 parents, sharing her knowledge and passion with people from around the world. In 2018, Carine realised families needed more support and launched her popular online parenting courses and monthly subscription boxes, full of personally designed Montessori materials.