25 great dinosaur games and party activities
Last Saturday, we held Ned’s 5th birthday party- filled with dinosaur games and activities. A simple do. Ned’s real birthday is not until next week, but I wanted to be sure he didn’t miss out so we brought the party forward a few weeks before the new bub’s due date.
My friend Ronnie, who has recently ventured into a new party baking and cooking business, made the cake. Not only does it look good, it tasted marvellous too! (And the leftovers were a yummy breakfast treat the next day too. I LOVE leftover cake. It’s almost better than on the first day. Don’t you think?)
I love party preparation and coming up with ideas for activities to do. This party, in the theme of keeping it simple, there were three.
The first dinosaur game was a DINOSAUR HUNT. I found plastic dinosaurs in Big W for $1 each! (sadly, I’ve found no such thing in timber other than those piece-together jigsaws…) These dinosaurs stand about 15cm tall so were perfect for this game. Ned and I used a label punch from my scrapbooking stash to cut out shapes from a piece of laminated painting paper. We then tied a circle onto each dinosaur and added the guest’s names. Early on birthday party morning, I quietly hid them in spots all around our garden- hiding in the long grass, up high on the washing line peeking over, in the tree limbs, by the brick wall, on our waterfall sculpture- in fact anywhere that wasn’t too obvious. When the guests had all arrived, I gave them all a dinosaur-printed goodie bag (with their name on it) and children were invited to hunt for their own dinosaur. Naming stuff definitely saves arguments, and also makes sure that you find everything you’ve hidden! Everyone is a winner.
The second was a DINOSAUR SMASH. We bought a bag of baby dinosaurs from Target ($3 for 15 pieces) and placed them in recycled plastic cups.
We named the cups too.
I filled up a big bucket with water and gave Ned a small pouring jug. He then filled each cup with enough water to cover the baby dinosaur in the base. He loved this job. We placed the cups into a flat bottomed tupperware container and popped the trays into the freezer.
Of course, Ned wanted to have a practice run so the next morning, we got one out and he had a go at gently hammering the dinosaur free from his icy home. Place the ice into a big flat-bottomed container to contain the loose chips of ice. I have a ‘kitchen’ hammer (it’s nice and small, reclaimed from a ladies tool set) but on the day, I also offered adult-sized hammers, a few rubber mallets, (both from daddy’s shed) and a wooden tool for flattening out schnitzel. All work well.
You’ll need to remind the children to be careful when they near the finish. These tiny dinosaurs can be a bit fragile and when they get close to being uncovered, children need to hammer carefully with baby jolts to make sure they free them in one piece and don’t lose a leg.
Top tip for party management: Fill a container full of hot/warm water. Dip the ice-cups in the warm water to help loosen the ice from the cups. Saves children having to wait too long! This activity was a BIG HIT, with children and parents alike. Definitely worth the preparation.
Our third game was ‘Pin the Tail on the Dinosaur’. Luckily, Ned’s daddy is a wonderful artist and whipped up this drawing in about 30 minutes. He then drew 15 individual tails too, one for each child.
On party day, we added some sticky tape to the tail, blindfolded the children one by one, spun them around and asked them to ‘pin’ the tail on the dinosaur. This was the result! Mish was the winner, and he received a small ‘dig out the dinosaur from a dirt egg’ toy- (A worthy investment for $2 from Kmart- not just as a party toy, but also as a great rainy day activity for dinosaur mad children. I bought one for Ned last week and he spent HOURS scraping and carefully digging away the dried earth from around the dino skeleton.)
And of course, there are plenty of other dinosaur-inspired things you can do too. Here’s a quick list of a few more…
4. Egg and spoon races, using ‘dinosaur’ eggs (such as the one above, or substitute with a chocolate easter egg)
5. Make your own dinosaur eggs by making up a mix of two cups of coffee grounds or used tea leaves, with one cup of flour, and one cup of water. When the mixture is well mixed, pick up half a handful and roll it into a ball. Push one finger into the ball to make a hole and place a glass gem or crystal in the centre, then cover it over again. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes on medium to high temperature. Leave to cool. Hide dinosaur eggs in the sandpit and invite guests to uncover, then excavate the eggs to find their treasure.
6. When visiting Explora-saurus (a dinosaur exhibit at the museum) earlier this year, one of their practical activities for children was a giant ‘sandbox’ filled with ‘bones’. The bones were made from plaster of paris, and glued to the base of the sandbox. The box was then filled with fine rubber pieces- the same material made from recycled tyres that is used as soft-fall under swings and slides at many local parks- but loose. Do this on a smaller scale by placing ‘bones’ (handmade or possibly found at your local National Geographic shop) in a low-sided container, and covering it with a layer of fine gravel often used in fishtanks.
7. Place dinosaur trinkets inside balloons and invite children to pop the dinosaur eggs to watch them hatch!
8. Make dinosaur gardens. Start by giving each child a recycled plant pot (pick them up cheaply from op shops- also, think outside the square to come up with alternative containers you might use: fishtanks, old teapots, cake tins etc). Allow them to fill their container with soil from a large pile using digging tools, then invite them to add ‘prehistoric’ (but hardy) plants such as cactus, succulents, and moss. You might provide slices of agate for water or ponds, gems or slices of crystals too. Children can then choose a dinosaur friend or two to live in the environment.
9. Make a batch of brown ‘dirt’ playdough and divide it into small containers. Add a few mini dinosaurs, smooth stones, and a bundle of tiny twigs and sticks as play things. Wrap the whole thing up in a paper bag with a dinosaur label for a take-home gift.
10. Make a batch of cookie dough. When children arrive, give them a piece of dough and invite them to roll it out thinly. Place a selection of medium to large sized, clean plastic dinosaurs on the table and show children how to stamp the dinosaurs feet into the dough to make footprint patterns. Bake them, then eat them up while warm!
11. Make the dinosaur footprints a little more permanent by rolling out some white clay onto boards in the shape of a circle. Invite children to ‘stamp’ their dinosaur footprints in a trail all over the clay. Dry the clay tablets in the oven on low temperature for 25 minutes (or as directed on the clay packaging.) When dry, invite children to paint their creations using acrylics.
12. Use the same idea (above) to make your own ‘fossils’. Children can press leaves, leaf skeletons, shells, or skeleton pieces from a wooden/plastic dinosaur model into the clay pieces. Harden as above.
13. Make edible nests for dinosaur ‘eggs’ by stirring a packet of chinese-style dried noodles (Chang’s in Australia) into a melted chocolate and peanut butter mix. For recipe, visit here. Children can scoop out a large tablespoon of the mix and shape it into a nest. When the nest is set, children can sit a dinosaur egg on top. (Use a chocolate easter egg, or a small amount of yoghurt-covered sultanas will do the trick too. If you prefer, you could felt an ‘egg’ using wool fleece and soapy water.)
14. Draw or purchase a large picture of a dinosaur, and laminate it. Cut it into 25 to 30 large puzzle pieces and give a handful to each child. Everyone can work together to complete the dinosaur and when it is finished, everyone can be given a token prize for such great collaboration and teamwork!
15. Make dinosaur cookies using dinosaur cookie cutters and invite children to decorate them with icing tubes, sprinkles, silver or metallic cachous (sweet sugar balls from the supermarket or cake shops), peanut butter, and honey drizzles.
16. Make dinosaur ‘spotted’ juggling balls. Fill a balloon with a few scoops of rice. (Use a funnel to pour rice into the balloon without making too much of a mess.) Tie it off and cut away the loose tail. Cut a few circular holes from a second balloon and then pull this balloon skin over the first balloon, being sure to begin near the knot. Repeat step 2 with a third balloon skin (another colour) if you like.
17. Lay out a large green cloth and a large blue cloth for a dinosaur landscape. You might like to incorporate a small tray or two filled with fine beach sand, or a small container of water as a lagoon or waterhole. Add pom-pom trees, or wooden trees to the landscape and invite children to play here with their dinosaur toys.
18. Set up a dinosaur-themed photo booth. Place all your fun dinosaur-inspired costume paraphernalia in one spot and invite children to dress up. When they are dressed, give them a large empty painting frame to hold and ask them to pull faces, poke their heads through, or just be silly. Have fun photographing the little terrors.
19. Create a dinosaur cave using dark coloured sheets over a table and chairs, or set up your tent in the backyard. Decorate with prehistoric paintings and line floor with hessian sacks. Invite children to eat their party food inside.
20. Make a paper mache dinosaur egg by blowing up a balloon, filling it with small wrapped lollies or candy, and covering it with strips of newspaper soaked in a homemade glue (1 part water to 1 part flour). When the dinosaur egg is covered, let it dry, then paint it with brown acrylic paint and roll it in dirt. Hang it up on party day and invite children to take turns giving it a ‘whack’ with a broom stick until it breaks and spills out the dinosaur bounty.
21. Make dinosaur necklaces by inviting children to string beads onto a long piece of string or elastic, and adding a dinosaur fossil medallion (pre-made, or make your own at the party out of oven-bake clay- see idea 11).
22. Offer dinosaur-inspired face painting: try bones, fossils, dinosaur footprints, or dinosaurs themselves.
23. Play Dinosaur Stomp. Blow up a balloon for each child and tie it onto their ankle. Put on the music ‘Everybody walk the dinosaur’ (the Queen Latifah version is great!) On the mark of ready, set, go, invite children to let their inner dinosaur go free as they try to ‘stomp’ on each other’s balloons. The winner is the one whose balloon is the last to pop.
24. Make ‘sun prints’ on t-shirts with dinosaur cardboard cut outs. Children paint the t-shirts with special ‘Setacolour’ paint ( see the entire process in action by reading this full colour information fact sheet) and then lay out their t-shirt (or teatowel, apron, etc…) in the sun. They then add their shapes, pieces and patterns (all pre-cut or found beforehand) onto the wet material and place it in the sun to dry. Let the imprinting begin! A very fun and unusual activity too. Dharma Trading is one supplier of Setacolour paint.
25. Cut out a bunch of dinosaur footprint shapes from green or brown cardboard and place them in a trail to lead children to a special destination- such as finding goodie bags, or when you are ready to light the candles for the birthday cake.
An extra bonus: Visit Dinosaur Farm for plenty of party favour ideas and treats.
Do you have any wonderful ideas to add?
Please leave them in the comments below.