Let’s face it: dinosaurs are fascinating in general. Add a young child’s curiosity to these complex creatures, and you’re bound to spend countless hours engaging in dino-related activities during playtime. My sons, ages 2 and 5, can’t get enough. If you’ve got a dinosaur lover at home, too, here are a few fun and educational toys and books to check out.
Nothing beats standard dinosaur figures for hours of imaginative play. Safari Ltd. offers realistic, hand-painted versions that will stand the test of time — these aren’t your typical cheap, plastic toys. A wide price range fits any budget. Also check out the company’s TOOB line, which has a dozen miniature toys packaged in a plastic tube for $12.
Dig It Up!
This series from Mindware lets budding paleontologists of varying ages get their hands dirty hatching eggs, uncovering fossils or unearthing skeletons to piece together. Ages vary per set depending on tools involved (chisel, pick, hammer) and the degree of difficulty; the egg and fossil kits are recommended for ages 4 and older, while the 3D Skeleton sets are recommended for ages 8 and older.
Each Bloco set includes high density foam pieces and plastic connectors that interlink, stack and rotate at any angle, so children can either assemble the creatures by following the instructions, or mix and match the pieces to create their own. The company has a total of 40 sets, four of which are dinosaur-themed. Recommended ages vary based on each set; generally ages 5-12.
Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs: The Definitive Pop-Up
By Robert Sabuda & Matthew Reinhart
Kids are amazed as dinosaurs leap off the pages in this detailed pop-up book for ages 5-9. Each of the six spreads features one large pop-up as well as booklets of smaller pop-ups and text about several species and the field of paleontology.
By Jonathan Litton
Touch, feel and hear the dinosaurs on every page of this interactive board book that’s perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. Each spread includes a touch and feel element accompanied by sound, as well as fun facts.
Dinosaur: A Photicular Book
By Dan Kainen & Kathy Wollard
The realistic images in this book move when you turn the pages, making the handful of featured dinosaurs come to life. There’s also in-depth descriptions of each — if you can get your kids to stop moving the pages long enough to read!