To create a dinosaur mural that involves all of your preschoolers, start with a piece of paper as large as you have room for. This art project on a grand scale gives the children just a taste of how big dinosaurs were. I covered my art table, but you may want to take it outside and use even more space! Draw the outline of a dinosaur with a Sharpie. If you’re not comfortable free-handing, use an overhead projector to transfer an outline you can trace. Provide a variety of painting tools with different textures. I used sponges, combs, texture rollers, brushes, print blocks, and paint brushes in a variety of widths. The children will often use their own fingers and whole hands to paint with as well. To accommodate all the different tools, I poured tempera paint thinly into the lids of plastic containers (sour cream, ice cream, etc.).
Get the kiddos in their smocks and set them free. They’ll experiment with the variety of tools and will likely even paint over one design they’ve already created. Just let them go and experiment. Don’t worry about staying in the lines, or what you think dinosaurs should look like. Just let them experiment and explore with the different prints and textures. In fact, this is a great opportunity to point out that since people and dinosaurs did not co-exist, all anyone can do is guess what colors they were. No one knows for sure if they were earth-tones, polka-dotted, or fluorescent pink!
After the painting is done, hang the paper to dry. It will likely look something like a very creative and exciting blob at that point. Don’t worry! Ours looked like this:
Once the paint is dry, cut out the outline that you drew at the beginning. If you’re having a hard time finding your original lines because of thick paint, look on the back side of the paper for where the original marker shows through. If you need to, re-draw some of the lines with a Sharpie. Here’s the finished product from a recent group endeavor:
Repeat the activity on consecutive days, or have several sheets for painting on one day. Include scenery like volcanoes and trees in addition to your dinosaurs. Combine the pictures for a mural! Keep your eyes out for additions that you may not have intended. For example, you may notice a piece that looks like a dinosaur egg, or a sun. Or the children may point out that they are making their own tar pit or rock that they want included. Use those too! Mural painting is a great creative and fine motor activity, while also building social skills and a sense of community as they work together.