Dinosaurs fascinate your 4-year-old so much that at least you had no trouble deciding on a theme for the birthday party. No need to worry about the preparation either. Dinosaurs are such a popular obsession among the preschool set that you'll have no trouble finding cool dino gear to please everyone. Party stores, craft stores and online novelty retailers are bursting with prehistoric goodies.
Set the Theme
Set the mood for a dinosaur theme by drawing chalk dinosaur footprints leading from your driveway to your door. Arriving guests will follow the footprints to begin their adventure. Keep the kids busy until everyone arrives with a clothespin stegosaurus craft. Prior to the party, cut a stegosaurus shape for each guest from green oak tag -- heavy cover stock paper -- omitting the plates along the dino's back. Paint six wooden clothespins green for each dinosaur ahead of time. Have the children draw an eye and mouth on the stegosaurus and then clip the clothespins on the back for plates.
Fill a backyard sandbox with fresh sand. Paint bone-shaped doggie treats white and bury them in the sand. Tell the children they are scientists searching for fossils. Provide beach pails, small rakes and shovels, and start digging. Have the kids take turns until every child has found one fossil. Continue the exploration with a dinosaur egg hunt. Purchase pre-filled dino eggs in the party favor aisle of your local party store, or make your own using plastic Easter eggs. Fill the eggs with tiny plastic dinosaurs or dinosaur erasers.
Use dinosaur cookie cutters to bake sugar cookies before the party. Let the kids decorate their own dino cookies using frosting tubes and sprinkles.
Play dino hop. Outline dinosaur shapes on large sheets of sturdy paper or cardboard and tape to the floor. Play upbeat party music and have the kids hop from one shape to another.
Create a pin-the-tail-on-the-dinosaur game by cutting out a large dinosaur shape from green construction paper, cutting the tail separately. Attach a dot of removable poster gum to the tail. Blindfold each child. Stand a child 3 to 4 feet in front of the dinosaur and see how close he can get pinning the tail to the dino.
Winding Up the Fun
To settle everyone down while you wait for parents to return, read aloud a dinosaur picture book such as “Little Grunt and the Big Egg” by Tomie dePaola or “Ten Terrible Dinosaurs” by Paul Strickland. Be sure everyone has a goody bag chock full of dinosaur cookies, stickers and action figures in hand before heading home.
Susan Ahearn holds a bachelor's degree in English from UMass Lowell. She began her career as a writer in a small college public relations office in 1986. Ahearn also has nine years of experience as a reading and writing tutor.
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