V has always been fascinated with animals since she was an infant, and at about 18 months she loved visiting zoos and seeing animal pictures. At some point of time, she realized she couldn’t see a ‘real’ dinosaur anywhere and that bummed her. And that is when her dinosaur-obsession began.
She had some dinosaur figurines, but she had to imagine exactly how big they were. Thanks to some wonderful books, the size difference between dinosaurs and other regular wild animals was understood. She also learnt about the different types of dinosaurs, their food preferences, temperaments, etc. Frankly, this was a little annoying for me, because I do not care about dinosaurs at all. But when a child becomes interested in a topic like this, they can’t just be receivers of knowledge. They need to actively pursue it to understand it. This in turn, also helps them process information better, and leads to better attention spans.
The dinosaur small world or sensory play was her favourite imaginative play for a very long time, where we would make some sensory slime/muck/ mud and create a small dinosaur world. It was fascinating to see how knowledge translated from books and how her speech improved. For example, she would say, “Now the T-rex start fighting, and the brachiosaurus are going back to the forest.” This, I later recollected from her books, was factually correct.
One of the simplest play we started with, was matching dinosaur figures to dino pictures or cards. These cards are from makingwildpaperplanes and one of the first dinosaur purchases I made.
She learnt from her books, that dinosaurs do not walk the Earth now, and that we reconstruct them from their bones and fossils. She wanted to go fossil hunting and become a paleontologist at that point and we did what we could do best- play. We had fun, making dinosaur bones and fossils, with salt dough and then hunting for them, and trying to identify them from our book. The recipe to the dough and complete play post can be found here.
Another wonderful play we still love, is imprinting dinosaur footprints on regular play dough and trying to match it with the right figurine.
Of course, she has now graduated to puzzles of a slightly higher level of difficulty, but still prefers animal or dino puzzles. But on holidays or lazy Sunday mornings, we still go back to good old sensory play.
Of course, we haven’t yet tried the fossil hunting outdoors, but we just might, once she is older. If you are based in Chennai, I’d highly recommend the Evolution Park at Kotturpuram and the dino park, Mahabalipuram. The latter has wonderful simulations of different types of dinos.
This post is a part of the #Blogchatter A2Z challenge. You can read the previous post in this series here.