Crayon Rubbing Dinosaur Craft

Crayon rubbing is fast and neat, perfect for pulling out when you have a few minutes before dinner or anytime you need a quick activity for the kids.  To do a crayon rubbing, you only need three things: a crayon with the wrapper peeled off, a textured surface, and a piece of paper.  For this activity I wanted to introduce crayon rubbing to R and H while still exploring our dinosaur theme.

First, I gathered some flat, textured materials I thought would work well for our crayon rubbings.  I tried out quite a few, but the ones that worked best were a disposable aluminum pan, splatter guard, and textured folder (all from Dollar Tree), and a cutting board we had on hand.  The block base plate made a neat polka-dot pattern but was too small for the boys to use independently.

I printed off some dinosaur templates from Stay at Home Educator and let the boys choose a dinosaur and rubbing surface.  I taped the papers down to keep them still and the kids started coloring.

R was very excited about the texture and loved rolling the crayon back and forth to feel the bumpiness of the cutting board under his paper.  H was much more interested in choosing the colors and commenting on his triceratops.

When they finished, I offered R and H new papers and new textured surfaces.  They explored the new items for a few minutes but lost interest before finishing another dinosaur.  I cut out the dinosaurs they did finish and drew on eyes before hanging them up for everyone to admire.  Overall, this activity held their interest for about 15 minutes–not too bad for something requiring so little set up and almost no clean up.  It’s definitely an activity I’ll hold onto to pull out another day.

Watercolor Dinosaur Fossils

Watercolor resist painting is one of my favorite art techniques.  It’s appropriate for all ages, can be adapted to a variety of topics, and is just plain awesome!  Since the kids and I are currently in the middle of our dinosaur unit, I was excited to come up with this fun and adorable fossil craft.

I scoured the internet for simple dinosaur fossil outlines, printed off a couple, then traced the outlines on a separate paper with a white taper candle. I first tried tracing with a white crayon, which works, but you can see that the candle wax resists better and leaves a brighter white line.

Once my fossils were ready, I set up the art center with watercolors (I love THESE for beginning painters), a cup of water, paintbrush, and one of the papers.  I explained to J that as he painted, he would find dinosaur bones hidden on the page.

J jumped right into painting.  As he went, I showed him where he was finding bones and pointed out areas of the paper where he might find more.  J was pleased to uncover a stegosaurus and impatient for him to dry so we could hang him up!

A few days later, I repeated this craft with H and R.  It was their first time using watercolors and they took their painting very seriously!  They were so proud of their finished dinosaurs (Triceratops and T-rex above), they showed them to everyone who came to the house!  I’m sure we’ll be doing some more wax resist watercolor painting very soon.


Play Dough Dinosaur Eggs

Following the great popularity of our dinosaur sensory bin and R and H’s delight in hiding and finding the little dinosaurs in the sand, I decided to expand this activity by hiding dinosaurs in play dough “eggs” for them to discover.

I gathered up our miniature dinosaurs and some homemade play dough I had on hand. I folded the dinosaurs into the play dough and attempted to form them into egg shapes.  Then I set out the eggs and some “excavating tools” on our activity trays and invited the kids to come explore.

R and H (2 years 10 months) had a fabulous time exploring the eggs and opening them to discover the dinosaurs hidden inside.  They went through the first batch of eggs pretty quickly so I spent the next half hour re-forming eggs for them to open again . . . and again . . . and again.  This activity gets five stars from me for being fast, easy, inexpensive, easy to clean up, and kid-approved!


Dinosaur Sensory Bin

Since J is enthralled with dinosaurs, I decided to introduce R and H to the wonderful world of dinosaurs as well.   They had never shown any interest in dinosaurs previously but perhaps dinosaurs are universally loved by little boys because they were immediately interested in the topic.  They dove right into the dinosaur sensory bin and started exploring the various textures and figures.

They were especially interested in the kinetic sand and were fascinated watching it break apart and fall into the bin.  I hid some of the small dinosaurs in sand “eggs” and they were occupied for quite some time uncovering the figures.

One thing that stood out to me while the kids played is how differently the various children played with their dinosaurs.   While J (not pictured) played primarily with his T-Rex, pretending it was chasing and eating the “baby” dinosaurs, R held his dinosaurs in his arms and announced “the mama dinosaur is kissing the baby”.  J may have a better grasp on the Jurassic era but my heart melted a little when R’s dinosaurs were snuggling.  🙂

Regardless, the dinosaur sensory bin has been a huge hit with all three kids and a frequently requested activity!  There’s no right or wrong way to make a sensory bin, but here’s what I used for ours:

  • 6 pounds (2 packs) of kinetic sand (from Amazon, Target, or most craft stores)
  • Dinosaur figures we had on hand (the small ones are available at Dollar Tree)
  • Craft sticks and rocks from my stash (I got the sticks at Hobby Lobby one time and the rocks at Dollar Tree but you might have some lying around the yard)
  • Various green blocks for “leaves” and “grass”
  • A blue bowl and blue blocks for our “lake”
  • Small plastic trees and rocks I had left from an under-the-sea play set
  • Volcano made out of a plastic bowl from Dollar Tree and felt strips
      J’s sensory bin was nearly identical, although I added a toilet paper roll for a hollow log and used a bowl of blue vase filler for the water since I was not concerned about him putting them in his mouth.  I still supervise closely , though!  If you make your own dinosaur sensory bin, I’d love to hear what you used!

Salt Dough Dinosaur Fossils

Lately, J is obsessed with dinosaurs.  Mostly with having his toy dinosaurs EAT and CRUSH things, but I figure that’s probably historically accurate, right?  Now that the holidays are over and things have settled down, I decided to encourage J’s interest with some dinosaur-themed activities.  One of the first things we did was create some dinosaur “fossils” from salt dough.


You will need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spatula
  • Parchment or wax paper
  • Dinosaur figures

To make the dough, mix 2 cups flour and one cup salt in a large bowl.  SLOWLY add the water, mixing as you go.  If your dough is too dry, add a little more water.  Once it gets to be a dough-like consistency, knead by hand until smooth.

J was super interested in watching ME mix the dough, but his enthusiasm for stirring was short-lived.  Once the consistency seemed good, I rolled out balls of dough, flattened them into discs, and we got busy making imprints.

I demonstrated how to press the dinosaurs into the dough to make imprints.  J watched intently, but was much more interested in having his dinosaurs stomp around on his dough.  At one point, he turned his entire pile of dough into a mountain for the dinosaurs!  But eventually, he made his fossils and pronounced them done.  I used the remaining dough to make a variety of imprints and “bones” (thankfully J is only 3 years old and not an art critic) and set our creations out to dry.

I recommend speeding the drying in the oven but since I wasn’t going to be home to supervise them for the required time, I opted to let them air dry.  (The photo shows our already dried fossils–I put them on wax-paper covered cookie sheets to dry and turned every 6-12 hours).  We made the fossils on Thursday afternoon and by Tuesday they were dry enough to play.

I selected about a dozen fossils and put them in a small tub with some sand, a paintbrush, a spoon (“shovel”), and a small hammer, and J got right to work excavating the bones.  He was very excited and kept saying “Wow!” every time he uncovered another fossil.

We talked a bit about paleontology but J was mostly busy covering and uncovering his fossils and telling me what dinosaur might have made each fossil.  He was entertained for about half an hour before it got to be close to dinnertime and we put the tub away to pull out another time.  I’m interested to see how long our salt dough fossils will hold up to being excavated by a budding paleontologist!