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Creative Ways to Use Dinosaurs in Play Therapy

Updated: Jul 18, 2023


creative ways to use dinosaurs in play therapy

I have found some amazing ideas for how to use dinosaurs in play therapy. I know some little guys who LOVE dinosaurs and would enjoy these ideas. From digging for dinosaur bones to creating dinosaur toys, this creative round-up will get your creative juices flowing.


The dinosaurs in my therapy room get used all the time. Typically kids will use them in the sand tray, but they also engage in other play activities as well. One of my favorite activities is to have children to choose dinosaurs to represent each member of their family and to set them out on the table. It is interesting to note which type of dinosaur is selected for each family member as well as where they are placed in relation to one another. Kids will often spontaneously show the dinosaurs interacting.


Play therapists will use toys, games, art, etc. as tools to help children heal and process emotions. Some will use client-centered non-directive play, while others will use a directive approach. I personally have a cognitive behavioral mindset and focus on ways to use toys to rescript thoughts, identify maladaptive thinking, and help kids with coping skills. Ultimately, you need to know your approach and then use the toys as the tools to get the job done. I highly recommend training in play therapy. There is a LOT to it.


Create Your Own Dinosaur Ideas:


use clothes pins to make dinosaur puppets to role play or story telling in therapy

by Easy Peasy and Fun

Aren't these the cutest!? How fun could this be to create puppets and then use them for storytelling or role-playing? The website has a video showing them in action. It has a link to download the template but requires a membership fee.


It could be fun to create one while the child is making one. You could put a magnet on the back and stick them on a file cabinet or clip them somewhere to display them. I'm sure you could get a good collection together over time.



Make dinosaurs out of cardboard to use as worry monsters in therapy

by Toddler Approved

You could up-cycle with this idea. Use old boxes, toilet paper rolls, and paper scraps to make dinosaurs. You could cut a slot into the dinosaur to have the dinosaur "consume" worries. Instead of making a superhero for children to identify how they would change their situation if they had superpowers, you could use dinosaurs.


build dinosaurs out of playdough with story cards

by Gigi


Use playdough to build your own dinosaur with these cards. They are $3 to download on Teacher Pay Teachers. I like the idea of using inexpensive items like dried pasta and googly eyes to enhance the dinosaurs. This could easily be modified to make it more applicable for behavioral health.



printable dinosaur patterns

by Sun Catchers Studio

Create your own dinosaurs with these printable stencils. Kids can draw their own dinosaurs with the outline provided. I don't know about you, but my dinosaur drawing skills are lacking. I'm thankful for folks who share their creative abilities.


dinosaur coloring pages

by Easy Peasy and Fun

Get some coloring pages to use with kids here. These are cute and would be good for little kiddos.

 

Impulse control games for counseling kids with adhd and impulse control issues
 

Dinosaur Egg Ideas:


make frozen dinosaur eggs with balloons

by Paging Fun Mums

This idea looks easy enough but could get messy. It would be a fun, summertime activity. The tutorial shows how to make frozen dinosaur eggs by putting a little dinosaur into a balloon, filling it with water, then freezing it.

create dinosaur eggs with easter eggs, playdough, and dinosaurs

by Vanessa Levin

I'm doing this one for sure!! This one shows how to use Easter eggs, playdough, and dinosaurs to create dinosaur eggs. It includes a little video to see how it will look and work.


I'm thinking this could be helpful to use as a metaphor about hidden things within or could be used as a CBT intervention to talk about digging out thoughts or beliefs that may be causing problems. Maybe remove a T-rex and replace it with a longneck.



hatch dinosaur eggs with baking soda and vinegar

by Crystal Underwood

This one uses baking soda and vinegar to hatch dinosaur eggs. I love the way the eggs look. This one could be really engaging. The tutorial shows how to create the eggs then to hatch them by applying the vinegar. The ingredients are inexpensive and could be found almost anywhere.


This could open up talking about what it would take to wash away the barriers that have been put up around the heart. Or maybe discussing the purpose of a shell and how it is necessary for a while, but then it is no longer needed. It could be a healing activity.

 

counseling games you can play for free

 

Dinosaur Dress-Up


play dinosaur dress up with a hat made from construction paper

by Ellen

Kids can dress up as dinosaurs with this activity. The tutorial shows how to create a hat out of construction paper so the child will look like they have dinosaur scales. Fun!



make dinosaur feet to stomp out negative feelings

by Kim

This is an activity about doing a "dinosaur stomp." This could be a creative way to help children crush their problems under their feet, stomp out their anxieties, or pound out angry feelings.


Activities:


use this dinosaur sorting activity to communicate emotions and grow in emotional vocabulary

by Nicole

This one would work well for little-bitties. You could draw facial expressions on the dinosaurs. Maybe have the kids tell a story about why the dinosaur is feeling that way. I'm sure there are MANY ways to use this activity in therapy.



create fossils with sand dough in play therapy

by Carla

I've never made sand dough. This one looks interesting. It has a recipe for how to make the sand dough then use dinosaurs to create fossils. This alludes to questions such as:

  • "What kind of impressions to do you want to make on the world?"

  • "What would you want others to find out about you?"

  • "If someone was to dig in to discover who you are, what would they find?"



free printable dinosaur matching game

by Sam

This is a cute little memory game that is a free printable download. This would be a fast, free, easy activity to use. The memory game is great in therapy to help children with frustration tolerance, and problem-solving skills.


 

play therapy interventions for anger
 
Get a move on with this dinosaur dancing and moving game

by The OT Toolbox

Get kiddos moving with this game. It was designed to be used as an occupational therapy game, but could also be used for mental health. You could modify the spinner to show coping skills or simply use it as a brain break. Creative!



create a sensory dinosaur swamp tray for digging sensory fun

by Amy

This takes sand tray to the next level. I may be a little scared to bring this messiness into my office, but it looks like a fun sensory experience for the kids. The article explains the "swamp" ingredients then you can add in your dinosaur toys. You could also include durable sand tray toys like trees, rocks, bugs, or other toys that would fit the scene.


I'm going to have to go back and check out this blog in detail. There were some thumbnails that piqued my interest. It looks like a treasure trove of play activities.



a free printable dinosaur song with printable dinosaurs

by Sarah

This could be a fantastic coping skill tool for little ones. It is a counting song that has a printable for holding up the indicated dinosaur while singing the song. It would be great to include some deep "dinosaur" breaths between lines. Visit the site to download the free PDF.


discover dinosaur sized feelings with this feelings scaling activity

by The OT Toolbox

Kids can choose different-sized dinosaurs to label different emotions. This can improve a child's ability to communicate emotions and to better help them scale emotions. If you have various sizes of the same dinosaur you could demonstrate the various levels of a feeling. The kids can discuss situations that would result in the various levels of that emotion.

This article discusses proprioception activities and how they impact emotions. There are also other dinosaur activities available on the website.

free printable dinosaur bingo

by Natasha

Kids love bingo and dinosaurs. Mix them together and you have a successful activity! This would be a fun group activity. This would help kids with patience, communication, impulse control, and focus. Games in general are helpful for children to learn to regulate emotions in a controlled environment.


dinosaur mats for playdough

by Teach Beside Me

These dinosaur outlines provide a way for children to create dinosaurs with playdough. Playdough is a fantastic outlet for aggression, as a sensory toy, or could be used as a stress ball. Be sure to visit my page about how to use playdough in play therapy. There are TONS of creative ideas.


How do you use dinosaurs in therapy? Have you found an intervention that seems to have a powerful impact on kids? I'd love to hear your ideas!

 

Now available! Play Dino Stories is a storytelling game to help children process emotions, family dynamics, and process issues of safety. This is perfect for little ones who have experienced trauma or children who struggle with anger or anxiety.


 

Helpful Resources:


A Round-up of games, activities, and free pintables to use in play therapy.
Creative Ways to Use Dinosaurs in Therapy
















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