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The Learning Dinosaur (an Educational DIY Game for kids)

The Learning Dinosaur

19 Jun 2020

 Alexandra Torrijos

Written & Created by
Alexandra Torrijos

 Matthew James Taylor

Edited & Illustrated by
Matthew James Taylor

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Entertaining kids of different ages at the same time can be a challenge. Thankfully with just a cardboard box, some paint, and a few balls, you can create fun educational learning activities.

The learning dinosaur game is an excellent opportunity to teach kids shapes, counting, and coordination. It is also an excellent activity for kids of all ages to work on gross motor skills and eye-hand coordination skills.

The learning dinosaur game

Creating toys with recycled materials is one of our favorite things to do. As my husband calls it “free toys.” With just a few supplies, you can make educational toys that are fun and entertaining. I’m going to show you how I created the learning dinosaur and the different ways you can use it with the kids, no matter what their age is.


  • A cardboard box
  • A marker
  • Acrylic or washable paint in one color
  • Cutting tools such as Xacto knife, knife, or scissors
  • Small plastic balls

Safety note:

Please be careful when using cutting knives or scissors around young children. Always provide constant supervision and keep sharp objects out of harm's way when not in use.


Step 1: Remove all flaps from the box

Remove flaps from the box

Once the flaps are removed, place the box open-side-down onto the floor.

Step 2: Draw a dinosaur shape on the box

Drawing the dinosaur outline

This is where you can get creative and design any kind of dinosaur you like! You can see I'm copying the basic shape from a small dinosaur toy.

Step 3: Paint the dinosaur

Painting the dinosaur

Choose a nice color, we decided on dinosaur-green. The painting part of the project is possibly the most fun!

Step 4: Darken the dinosaur outline

Darkening the dinosaur outline

When the paint is dried, trace the border using a sharpie to allow the dinosaur to stand out. Black or Navy blue is best for this step, it really makes it pop!

Step 5: Cut out different shapes.

Cutting out shapes in the dinosaur

Select a few shapes to carve out on different locations on the dinosaur.

Step 6: Label each shape with the shape name.

Label the cut-out shapes

Step 7: Add score points for each shape

Add score points to each shape

For older kids, create a point system for each hole. Ten points, 20 points, and so on starting with 10 points for the easiest hole they will be able to throw the ball in.

You're done! Now it's time to play

Because I have two kids of different ages (13 and 2), I created different variations of the games to be played according to the age of the kids. This way, the kids can play together, but they each have their own challenges.

Dinosaur Learning Activity For Babies

Kids under two years old take a lot of interest in random objects. They are discovering the world around them and are learning how things work.

Cause and effect activities are especially interesting to them. You will often see them throwing objects over and over just to see what happens.

Create a cause and effect game with the learning dinosaur.

Place a basket with balls and the learning dinosaur in front of them.

Show them how you grab each ball and place it in one of the dinosaur openings.

Toddler playing the learning dinosaur game

Ask the child, “where did the ball go?” Followed by showing them where the ball is.

Allow the child to try for themselves to place the ball in the hole and find where it goes.

Dinosaur Learning Activity For Toddlers

Kids over the age of two are ready to start learning shapes. My son loved this activity while I was creating the dinosaur at home.

Hand over the carved out shapes that are labeled and work with the child to find the right matching hole.

Baby playing the learning dinosaur game

This activity allows us to practice shape recognition, vocabulary, and fine motor skills all at once.

Once the child understands the game, It is a great activity for independent play. Just make sure you show the child how to find the pieces under the box once he/she has inserted each shape.

If shapes are too easy, you can label the cutouts with numbers and letters to match those instead.

Dinosaur Learning Activity for Older Kids

For older kids, a learning dinosaur is an excellent tool for multiple learning games or even just fun games.

Want to practice multiplication? Hand them out a ball and ask them a multiplication problem. When the child answers, allow him to throw the ball into one of the holes to earn a few points.

Not in the mood for learning? Just work on gross motor skill work - which is those big body muscle movements. Stand back and practice tossing the ball and earning points.

You can make the holes bigger or smaller according to the child’s age. You can stand farther or closer as well.

The idea is to have fun but make it challenging enough for each child’s age.

My teenage son loves basketball, a great challenge for him. We even made it a family competition and invited my husband and my toddler to participate.

Family playing the learning dinosaur game

Can you guess who won? My son. I’m glad all that basketball training we have invested in has paid off.

Final thoughts

When you involve games where kids can actually move their whole body, you activate different parts of the brain when learning.

The learning dinosaur is an opportunity to learn through play. It is a way to engage all the senses.

For young toddlers, it is a mystery to drop in the ball and figure it out where it goes. It works on cause and effect, and that creates connections in the brain.

The learning dinosaur is a new way of learning as opposed to having to sit at a desk with paper and pencil in front of you.

Kids learn by doing and the learning dinosaur is a great tool to help them do just that.

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