Does your little one love dinosaurs?
Do you want a super simple play activity?
Do you want a taste safe sensory option?
This dinosaur swamp activity is so simple to put together and can be adapted to suit your child – we’ll walk through the basics and then you can decide what extras to add depending on what your little one may or may not try and put in their mouth!
Dinosaur Swamp Activity Prep
I’m going to let you on a little secret – this was not a planned activity…
I did not make the jelly for a dinosaur swamp(!)
And I did not let my cress grow too much and then dry out so I could add some greenery to the swamp(!)
The jelly was actually for something else that did not go to plan
And the cress was a bit of an experiment that got forgotten about on the kitchen window sill!
We often see beautiful set ups and gorgeous play trays, and yes I love to set those up, but this was even more fun because it was just using up what we had! So don’t be discouraged when things don’t turn out as planned, you never know what you might come up with!
And now on to the Dinosaur Swamp Activity that you’re all here for!
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Making a Jelly Base
If you live in the UK you might already know that blue jelly isn’t really something you can get hold of very easily in the supermarkets!
(If you live elsewhere then you may be able to get hold of blue jelly/jello more easily?) Let me know in the comments!
If however you are not able to get hold of blue jelly then the best thing to do is to add food colouring when making the jelly – just make up the jelly as you normally would, and add the food colouring before setting.
Now the obvious problem that you may foresee, is that most jelly is already coloured so how do you get a blue jelly?? Well this is largely how I came to use this jelly in a swamp!
I used orange jelly and added blue food colouring, except it turned the jelly a murky black colour (which was not was I was hoping for originally!)
However, for your dinosaur swamp, this is the perfect colour – when it is in big clumps its looks almost muddy, but when it is spread thinly on shines in the light it has a greeny blue tinge to it which works beautifully as shown below
Growing your Dinosaur Swamp Activity Plants
For the swamp plants we used some cress that we were growing on the kitchen window sill which we completely forgot about and it grow very long and floppy and dried out a little!
Cress grows in a matter of days and so is a perfect project for little ones, helping to look after the cress and to watch it grow, – if however you want to bring this tray together a little quicker then you could just use some cut grass sprinkled over, or some mini artificial plants to add some greenery to the tray!
Dinosaur Swamp Activity Setup
Once your jelly is set, and you have your overgrown cress or cut grass, it’s time to start putting together your tray (which you’ll be pleased to know is very quick and easy!)
The Tray – For this sensory activity we used a blue plastic tray with a white sheet of paper in the bottom so that when the jelly went on top it had more colour – you could use a clear or white tray and probably wouldn’t need to add this step
(top tip – I actually bought this tray in the pet isle as a small cat litter tray – it was a fraction of the cost of the trays elsewhere in the home section for the same item!)
Jelly Swamp – Add the jelly to the tray and break up with a fork to achieve a gooey wet texture for the dinosaur swamp (If you don’t have jelly then you could use blue water beads – just be sure to use safe to eat beads for little ones)
Swamp Plants – If you have grown some cress in small plant pots then you can either empty the contents into the swamp which makes it even more muddy and gooey – alternatively if you are using this with younger toddlers then you may wish to keep them in their pots if they are likely to try and eat the soil! Either way, add your cress to the swamp and you are nearly there!
Extra Touches – Once you have made your main dinosaur swamp then it’s up to you how to go about adding to it – we love using what we have so we grabbed some small pebbles, some broken twigs and small pine cones to fill out the tray – but these are completely optional, sometimes the more basic sensory trays are more fun!
Dinosaurs – It wouldn’t be a dinosaur swamp without the dinosaurs! We used our much loved Learning Minds Jumbo Dinosaurs which are perfect for messy play and for small hands, you can find them here on Amazon:
Dinosaur Swamp Activity: Cleaning Up the Dinosaurs!
Your Dinosaur Swamp Activity makes for a great stand alone sensory play activity but if you want to take it a little further, then why not encourage your little ones to really take care of their dinosaurs by adding a washing station for the dinosaurs to get cleaned up!
Wash – I simply added a plastic bowl of water, some bubbly soap (because the bubbles make it so much more fun!) and a small cloth to wipe down the dinosaurs (you could add a toothbrush to scrub the clean too!)
Dry – I also added some towels (small flannels) to use for drying the dinosaurs and so they can be wrapped up nice and warm
The great thing about this activity is that your little ones can keep on playing as the dinosaurs get gooey, and then clean, and then straight back into the swamp they go!
If you are looking for more great dinosaur activities then check out this post:
Dinosaur Swamp Activity Recap
If you’re short on time – here’s the recap, and don’t forget to pin for later!
- Create some BLUE JELLY using food colouring if not able to purchases (alternatively use taste safe water beads)
- Grow some CRESS in small pots and leave to overgrow for some dinosaur swamp plants (alternatively use some cut grass)
- Add any EXTRA ELEMENTS you wish to your swamp such as rocks, twigs or leaves
- Add the all important DINOSAURS (you can get some great jumbo dinosaurs for toddlers here)
- You could add a CLEANING STATION as an optional extra
I hope you enjoy making your very own dinosaur swamp activity at home with your little ones – remember in creative play it’s all about the play not about what it looks like – have fun 🙂
Louisa | Mum’s Creative Cupboard