Engineering a Dinosaur

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This adorable suggestion from Little Passports allows kids to plan and construct – the basics of engineering! For my three-year-old, the activity was equally about the fun of squishing straws into marshmallows (and eating a couple along the way), as it was about building a dinosaur… But nothing wrong with that! It was a neat exercise in getting him to think more deliberately about how to build a structure.

We started by setting up two of our dinosaur toys as models (if you don’t have dino toys at home, consider looking at a picture online), and gathered our materials – Dandies marshmallows and straws.

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I asked Travis if he thought T-rex’s head should be a marshmallow or straw, to which he replied the former, and we went from there. As we added each piece, Travis loved helping decide what should come next, and was also fascinated by how we could shape the dinosaur by trimming the straws into smaller pieces (a grown-up or big kid job).

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He especially loved figuring out how tails, arms, and legs attached.

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The fun didn’t end when our dinosaurs were complete – we had lots of leftover marshmallows which he wanted to play with. This one became a “snowman” with a firefighter’s hose.

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It also turned into a neat lesson on fractions, since as I cut the straws into halves, thirds, or quarters, he helped me count the pieces. Overall, great STEM-based fun!

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