This is a super simple dinosaur sensory bin your little paleontologists will love. Hours of fun with just a few ingredients is a win-win to me!
Dinosaurs are something most early childhood educators and parents become well-versed in at some point, right?
While my son never went through a dinosaur phase (he was into all things trains), many of my past students have been big fans. And I have to admit, I was one of those kids! I could spout off all kinds of dinosaur facts when I was younger, even if I can’t remember all of them now.
Did you know that kids’ brains benefit from interests in things like dinosaurs? I love research, so reading a bit about that fascinated me! All the more reason to encourage this interest (even though we already knew that, didn’t we?).
Dinosaur Sensory Bin
Oh, how I love a good sensory bin! Sometimes I like to set them up with a wide variety of materials. And then I let the kids helping me create an intricate invitation.
But other times, I just like to keep it simple. And that’s perfectly fine, too! It’s called balance.
This dinosaur sensory play definitely falls into the simple category. Seeing as I know it can keep the kids happy and engaged for hours (hours!), I see nothing wrong with its simplicity.
The kids can really focus in on their imaginations and sensory input as they play.
Materials for Your Dinosaur Sensory Play
As I mentioned earlier, this is an easy-to-set-up sensory bin. So you don’t need much:
- All purpose flour
- Baby oil (vegetable oil is a good alternative)
- Dinosaur toys
- Sensory bin or small tub
And that’s really it! You can also add some sensory tools, like shovels or even some loose parts, like small rocks. Feel free to make adjustments as you see fit!
How to Make Cloud Dough
The base of this dinosaur sensory bin is homemade cloud dough. Have you ever made it? It’s very easy to put together, and I just love the texture of it.
I’ve used cloud dough in so many sensory bins in the past. Most children have enjoyed helping me make it, and it is usually a hit because of how it feels.
Related: Taste-Safe Play Sand
If you’re making a small batch, as seen in our pictures, here’s what you need to do:
- Measure out 8 cups of flour into a bowl.
- Add 1 cup of baby oil (or vegetable oil).
- Mix everything together well.
If you’re planning to fill a larger bin with the cloud dough, be sure to adjust the recipe above.
It will take a little bit of effort to fully mix the ingredients together. I highly recommend having the kids help you make it! Just make sure everyone washes their hands very thoroughly first.
I’ve found it’s helpful to really get your hands into it and squish the materials together between your fingers. Slotted spoons also work well, as they help cut the oil into the flour when you press them into the mix.
Assembling and Using the Dinosaur Sensory Bin
Once you have the cloud dough ready to go, you can put your sensory bin together.
Take all of the cloud dough and place it into a small container (perfect for individual sensory bins) or a larger sensory table. Spread everything out, and be sure to have the kids help!
Then it’s time to add in the dinosaurs. You can place them next to the sensory bin, or you can set up a little dinosaur play invitation in the dough.
Related: Unicorn Play Dough
After that, the bin is ready for play! As with most open-ended activities, kids will interact with the bin in different ways:
- Some will enjoy running their fingers through the cloud dough.
- Others will use the cloud dough to build hills, valleys, and castles.
- Pretend play will be the focus of other children. Prepare for some great dinosaur stories!
- Based on my experiences, a few children will also be focused on pressing dinosaur footprints into the dough over and over again.
Of course, your students may come up with even more ways to interact with the dinosaur sensory bin!
If you have children who are truly interested in paleontology, I highly suggest setting up a dinosaur dig for them. We’ve done this many times in the past, using “dinosaur fossils” in place of the dinosaur toys.
More Preschool Dinosaur Activities
If your students loved the dinosaur sensory bin, they will get a kick out of these activities as well:
Preschool Dinosaur Resources
If you want to plan an entire theme around this dinosaur sensory bin, Preschool Teacher 101 has you covered. Read below for two done-for-you resources that would be PERFECT for your students!
First, take a peek at the Dinosaur Dig Dramatic Play Pack. Over 100 pages of instructions and ideas, activity descriptions, labels, signs, character badges, pretend play prompts, and more.
And of course there’s the Preschool Dinosaur Theme Pack! This is a full set of lesson plans including a weekly grid, daily plans, book ideas, activity descriptions, center activities, and related printables!