Create some DIY dinosaur bones for using in sensory play activities and learning about maths at the same time! Lots of different ways to play and learn and wonderfully appealing for all those little palaeontologists out there, this would be great in the classroom or home.
My 3 year old has recently declared a love for dinosaurs and it has even great fun coming up with some new resources and activities centred around that theme. When I was teaching Reception, we often used to use dinosaurs as a themed topic and the children absolutely adored learning about them. We always had fun applying our themes to every area of the curriculum to tie it all in together.
The bones were super simple to make, using our very easy salt dough recipe here (just 3 everyday ingredients.) We made the dough together and then kneaded it until it was smooth and elastic like play dough and then rolled it out into 10 sausage shapes. I made the rest of the activity a surprise and finished the bones myself, making them range from short to long in 10 different lengths. They went into the oven for 2-3 hours at about 120 C in a normal oven (around 250 F.) You may need to reduce the temperature for fan assisted ovens.
When they were ready I drew around them onto card in size order to make a matching sheet for the Dinosaur Detectives! Then I hid them in a shallow basket of fresh soil with a magnifying glass and pastry brush ready for detective work.
I set them the task of finding the 10 missing dinosaur bones. Could they find, match and count them all to check they were all found again safely? Ready, steady, go!
The pastry brush turned out to be really useful as the bones picked up the dirt in a very realistic way! They loved brushing it off and finding where to match each one in their collection. You could, of course, remove the matching card and ask them to sort them into the correct lengths without a guide, depending on the ages and abilities of the child.
When they had played this a few times, they took the bits off the play a hide and seek game with them on a larger scale around the house and garden. Baby Bean was so excited to search for them too! They counted up to 10 each time to check they had found them all and worked out how many were missing on the occasions that some hadn’t been found.
“Oh no! there are only 7 on the board. that means there must be……3 missing!” In a teaching situation you could deliberately create a certain number of missing bones and ask them to work out how many more they need to find.
The bones have been clean off and stored with our other DIY resources for other games in the future. The great thing about salt dough is that it’s really cheap and easy to make things with, and lasts for a very long time.
What they are learning as they play:
Maths: counting, ordering, matching and sorting, problem solving, addition and subtraction
Creativity: making up stories and role play scenarios, staying in character, imaginative play, making modelling materials
See all our other Salt Dough Activities here
See our whole Playful Maths series here
Check out all our Play and Learning Pinterest Boards too!
See our other Dinosaur Ideas here