Outdoor Dinosaur Sensory Bin {with Free Printables}

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As the mother of many, I know how important it is to get connected with my kids, especially one on one. Since Baby Daniel was born in March, sweet and sassy Maeve had to grow up in a hurry.

Just last summer, she was barely walking. Now, she’s running, dancing, and keeping me on my toes, always wanting to be outside.


We’re blessed to be able to enjoy lots of outdoor play in the spring and fall, without the heat and humidity of the summer months.

Create your own dinosaur sensory bin!

Create Your Own Backyard Dinosaur Sensory Bin Dig

Before cleaning and putting away the turtle sandbox  for the winter, we decided to use it in a fun way one last time.

My kids are all big fans of sensory play, so I started thinking about ideas to fill our sandbox with something OTHER THAN sand.

Water beads? Shaving cream?

I brainstormed with my good friend Colleen, who suggested corn.

Maeve LOVES Dinosaur Train, and that gave us an idea for a Dinosaur Sensory Bin. We started gathering up all the dinosaurs in the house to ‘hide’ in some cracked corn Daddy had picked up.

dinosaur sensory bin #playfulpreschool

Maeve played with her older brothers and sisters, blowing bubbles, while Brett and I filled up the sandbox.

I grabbed some of our buckets, measuring cups and even some big serving spoons for Maeve to use while she explored her dinosaur dig.

Finally, it was ready!

Sensory play with dinosaurs #playfulpreschool

sensory play with corn #playfulpreschool

We just stepped back and watched the fun.

sensory play dinosaur

The next day, Maeve wanted to go back out to her ‘dinosaur box’, but I needed to have the big kids get some school things done first. I wanted her to stay up on the deck for a bit so I could keep an eye on her.

To keep her occupied, I pulled out this dinosaur tot pack that I’d been saving for just such an occasion.

dinosaur tot pack printables

Dinosaur Printable Tot Pack

She loves to sit right in the middle of the big kids while we have our formal school lessons. When I told her this was her special school, she was thrilled — and forgot all about the dinosaur dig for a bit.

dino matching game

We did some matching. She didn’t quite get this, but loved asking me ‘color?’ – her language for ‘what color is this?’. We also worked on counting the dinosaurs.

do a dot page dinosaur

I laminated the do a dot pages, and we used our favorite glass gems. (You’ll need to use your judgement on these. Maeve knows not to put them in her mouth.)

If you’re planning on using these with more than one child,or just want extra durability, you’ll want to laminate some of the items.(My favorite laminator is on sale periodically, and these laminating sheets are way cheaper than the name brand)

When we write on the laminated sheets, we use the Vis a Vis wet erase markers, or the Crayola Dry Erase Crayons.

When using the Do a Dot Pages, you can print them out and use the Do a Dot Markers, or laminate them and use pompoms, glass beads or colored magnets.

Download the Dinosaur Tot Pack by clicking here!

After the big kids finished up their work, and were ready to head outside to play, Maeve was just about ready for a break from her special school, too.

They all headed back out towards the “dig site,” ready to work together as junior paleontologists discovering the secrets of our past.

And I got to snuggle up with sweet Baby Daniel on the deck with a book while they explored happily {and cooperatively} together. Win-Win.

We’re enjoying these dinosaur books right now, as well as lots of fun dinosaur games and crafts.

Outdoor Activities badge

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  1. Looks like a lot fun was had! I LOVE the printable 🙂

  2. We have an indoor version of this in a plastic box – it’s hours of entertainment for us!

  3. I like the way you took her “dinosaur” and ran with it – giving it a girly twist to make it special for your little one! Very nice 🙂

  4. Melissa @ A Virtuous Woman says

    This looks like so much fun!

  5. Jodie @ Growing Book by Book says

    So much fun. I’m sure the dinosaur obsession will begin soon in our house.

  6. Colleen+Kessler says

    I adore these printables, my friend. I know a little four year old girl who will love them, too.

  7. What gorgeous printables. And a gorgeous little girl – I love watching children concentrating and trying really hard like in the photo of her drawing 🙂

  8. Hi Dianna! So happy to have you link up with us and LOVE your dino ideas and printables!!!

  9. Clare's Little Tots says

    Oh I wish I had seen this last month when we were doing a dinosaur theme my little ones would’ve loved this! Will be saving this idea for next time round 🙂

  10. Coombemill says

    Those little sand pits are so handy for the garden

  11. What fun!! I never thought of corn for sensory play. I love it! Thank you for sharing on Sharing Saturday!

  12. Looks like your daughter had a great time in the sand box! I love that the dinosaur printables are ‘girly!’

  13. What a lovely idea. Thanks for linking up to the parenting pin it party!

  14. what a super idea! we need to sped more time playing too!

    thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments

  15. Jennifer says

    Love the dinosaur dig idea, and those printables are gorgeous #pintorials

  16. Danielle @ Mom Inspired Life says

    Found this at the Toddler and Preschool Moms pinning party link up. We have that same sandbox and my son loves to dig for dinos in it too. The printables are great! Pinning to my Toddler/Pre-K board!

  17. I must do this for my little man (2yo) who has a growing interest in dinosaurs! #MagicMoments

  18. Jennifer Dawn says

    What a cute activity! It looks like they had a lot of fun!

  19. Anne at Left Brain Craft Brain says

    The pictures of your daughter in cracked corn make me smile. This looks like so much fun! Thanks for sharing at the Love to Learn Linky.

  20. Fantastic hands-on dinosaur activities

  21. Danielle @ Mom Inspired Life says

    This looks like so much fun!

  22. I love the dinosaur sensory bin. Our children would want to dig right in. Thank you for providing free printable dinosaur activities. I can’t wait to try them out!

  23. Cerys from Rainy Day Mum says

    What a fantastic pin and I love those printables – Will be printing them out for later this week. Thank you.

  24. What an awesome printable package!

  25. Jodie @ Growing Book by Book says

    I’m hoping the weather warms up and dries out here so we can do some dinosaur exploring outside!

  26. The Preschool Toolbox says

    Love the corn sensory bin for the October Dinosaur Theme! It’s a great sensory bin base and encourages so many skills! The do-a-dots are a fun extension activity, too! Nice post!

  27. This looks like a fun sensory bin, a big sensory bin too. I like the girly printable and you already know I love glass beads.

  28. Thanks for sharing these printables!

  29. OMGsh, I’m in love! My 3 year old daughter loves dino’s and this is perfect. Thanks for sharing your Totpack. I’m going to have to go get some corn for our sensory bin, I’ve never even considered that 🙂

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