Creative Ways to Use Dinosaurs in Play Therapy
Updated: Dec 29, 2022
I have found some amazing ideas for how to use dinosaurs in 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.
Create Your Own Dinosaur Ideas:
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.
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 a Dinosaur out of Playdough
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.
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.
by Easy Peasy and Fun
Get some coloring pages to use with kids here. These are cute and would be good for little kiddos.
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Dinosaur Egg Ideas:
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.
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.
Hatching Dinosaur Eggs 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.
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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!
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.
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.
Dinosaur Fossils in Sand Dough
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?"
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.
Related Post: Play Therapy Interventions for Anger
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!
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.
10 Little Dinosaurs Song and Printable Characters
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.
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.
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.
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.