I don’t know about you, but I know that I easily get caught up in the tasks and “to-do’s” that I don’t take enough time to really sit down and PLAY with my kids! I’ll often get them set up with a game or a puzzle, pull out the blocks or Barbies, etc., but I don’t play WITH them as often as I should. When I told my son I had a fun game in mind for the two of us to play together, the smile on his face was priceless, and he’s been talking about it ever since! (And, what he may not have realized is that we were doing some serious learning! He was using his knowledge of dinosaurs to analyze, hypothesize, compare….SO much thinking and application going on during a seemingly simple game!) I loved our time together, and wanted to share this fun playtime idea.

This game is easily adaptable to your own child’s interests. If he/she isn’t into dinosaurs, you could go on a safari adventure, a fairy adventure, etc. Use the toys you have to make this a fun learning experience for you and your child!

First, I had my son go into another room of the house, while I hid his dinosaur toys in the family room.

Hello Stegosaurus!

I see you Mr. T-Rex!

All throughout the room, I tucked his dinos into hiding places. Some were more easily visible, while others were made more difficult to “hunt.”

When I was finished hiding all of the dinosaurs, I called him in to start our “adventure.” We were dinosaur explorers on an exciting expedition!

Ready with his trusty binoculars, Henry was ready to hunt for some dinosaurs!

As he spotted each dino, I had him tell me the name of the dinosaur, whether it was a carnivore, an herbivore, or an omnivore, and whether it was warm or cold blooded.  (He often told me much more information than that!) If you were playing this game with other animals, you could ask about their habitat, talk about predators and prey, body covering, size, etc. Use comparisons to boost your child’s math skills and get them thinking critically!

Woohoo! A quetzalcoatlus! We celebrated each dinosaur as we found them!

What dinosaur adventure would be complete without a trip to the “great valley?” This was a great way to have a discussion regarding what might have happened if a stegosaurus was next to a corythosaurus, or a t-rex next to a triceratops. We were able to talk about defense mechanisms, allowing fairly sophisticated thinking to occur (especially for a four year old!) Use play as a natural teaching tool. Expand on your child’s interests and ask questions, and provide information as you play. Have fun on your next adventure!

I spy learning and fun in your future!!!