How To Make A Dinosaur Out Of Food — A Surprisingly Fun School Project

by Susan

Am I the only mother of a Kindergarten child who dreads the coming years of school projects (which sometime seem like they should be called “mom projects”)?

I remember my own mother taking our school projects far too seriously and going completely overboard helping us.

I’ve promised myself there is no way I’m going to go crazy over my girls’ school projects, but I admit the whole concept of school projects stresses me somewhat.

My five year old Julia is half way through Kindergarten and last week my fear took form. A letter from the teacher announced the children were to brainstorm and sketch out a plan to make a dinosaur out of food. The parents were supposed to take the child to the grocery store to purchase the necessary food items and bring them to school the following week.

My initial response (silently in my head) was, “Shut Up! They are 5! They can’t figure out how to build a dinosaur from food. This “school project” clearly means mom do a money wasting, time wasting school project for your child.”

While I was at the grocery store later, on my own, I aimlessly and hopelessly looked through the baking goods and produce sections for inspiration. Silently again I cursed the concept of school projects requiring busy parents to spend time and money they don’t have.

Tiny from Dinosaur TrainSince my girls are currently obsessed with the TV show Dinosaur Train, I knew without a doubt that Julia would insist on making a Pteranodon. “We are doomed”, I muttered under my breath.

“How is a 5 year old supposed to figure out how to make a dinosaur out of food when I can’t even do it?”

I gave up and finished buying the groceries we actually needed to eat… not play with.

When I came home, I reread the assignment and it included a couple of suggestions for food items including pears as bodies. As I stared at the notice, I reminded myself of my promise to not freak out over school projects and to not instill an unhealthy pursuit of perfection in my children.

I decided I was going to take Julia with me to the store and we’d figure something out together. It may not end up looking much like a Pteranodon, but she’d see the Dinosaur we intended and we’d have fun doing it.

On my next solo grocery trip, I strolled slowly through the produce section gathering some ideas so that I could guide Julia in a reasonable direction. I decided we should embrace her passion for Pteranodons and create “Tiny” a member of the Pteranodon family from Dinosaur Train. I figured green produce items were the way to go.

Finally, Julia and I headed out to the market. We brought her favorite little Pteranodon toy as a model to follow and I guided her through the aisles talking about what fruits and vegetables sort of looked like parts of the body of a Pteranodon.

We actually had fun selecting the items and Julia even got excited to buy and eat some new types of vegetables including asparagus — which although we did not use in our Dinosaur, she gobbled up at dinner time.

The project required that they bring a drawing of their plan and the food pieces to execute it at school with the teacher’s help, but I couldn’t resist building a prototype with Julia at home.

We took out our Dinosaur pieces and with toothpicks in hand assembled this adorable little Pteranodon. Julia and I were thrilled. We had so much fun and truly worked on it together. I couldn’t believe that this school project that I initially scoffed at turned out to be such a fun and worthwhile experience.

How To Make A Dinosaur out of Food

iPhone photo of our Pteranodon made out of food

Here’s how to make a Dinosaur out of food…

  1. Select the following ingredients: a green pear, a baby cucumber, two long green beans, two leafs of lettuce, a baby banana (if not available, you could cut half a normal banana), and two raisins. Also grab several toothpicks.
     
  2. Wash all the items in case your child wants to eat the dinosaur afterward.
     
  3. Legs: Cut the baby cucumber in half and place the pieces cut end down.
     
  4. Body: Stick toothpicks in the tops of the cucumbers and push the pear on top to form a body with legs.
     
  5. Arms: Trim one end off each of the green beans and stick a toothpick into each green bean. Push the ends of the toothpicks into the pear’s sides to make the green beans become arms.
     
  6. Wings: Wrap the edge of a piece of lettuce over each bean and fasten with a toothpick to form wings.
     
  7. Head: Take the baby banana and push it onto the stem of the pear, trying to find the ideal balance point to allow the Pteranodon to stay standing. Push in extra toothpicks to support the head.
     
  8. Eyes: Break the tips off a toothpick and use the small pieces of toothpick to attach the raisins to the banana to form eyes.
     
  9. Mouth: Cut little slits in the top of banana to form the nostrils and slit the end of the banana open to form a mouth.
     

And there you have an adorable and edible Pteranodon!

The next day I cut up and served Julia the pear and told her she was eating a Dinosaur. She loved the entire project — even eating it in the end.

 

Written by Susan, co-founder of the Mom Blog, 5 Minutes for Mom
Tweet with me @5minutesformom



Email Author    |    Website About Susan

Susan Carraretto and her identical twin, Janice Croze, created 5 Minutes for Mom in 2006. Susan loves all social media, but her top addiction these days is Pinterest. She recently published a children's book titled "The Pest Detectives" which you can download now in digital format for free.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kia January 27, 2011 at 5:52 am

I love your Pteranodon!
What a sucessful outcome to a fun project =)

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2 Susan January 30, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Thanks Kia!
I was so surprised that it did turn out.

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3 Susie's Homemade January 27, 2011 at 9:41 am

What a cute idea!!

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4 Julie January 27, 2011 at 11:50 am

Wow, this is awesome! My kids will love this… if I can make it!

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5 Susan January 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Thanks Ladies!

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6 Katie January 27, 2011 at 12:22 pm

This is ADORABLE! I love it. Thanks!

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7 Susan January 30, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Thanks Katie

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8 Cynthia January 27, 2011 at 3:56 pm

That is really cute! It looks like you two did a great job.

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9 Susan January 30, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Thanks Cynthia!

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10 casey byrd January 27, 2011 at 6:19 pm

that is SO cute!!!! omg! i wish my daughters school (she is also in K) took some initiative to let them learn in more hands on ways besides just coloring all day long. maybe i should share this with the teacher!@? i think i will! :) thanks!

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11 Susan January 30, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Good point that I should appreciate the school doing such activities. The alternative of them just coloring all the time isn’t good.

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12 Patricia Knight January 27, 2011 at 7:56 pm

My son is obsessed with Dinosaur Train this week as well. I actually homeschool my son and today everything we did centered around dinosaurs. I think we will do this activity tomorrow. Thanks for the idea!

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13 Susan January 30, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Even my 9 year old nephew Jackson loves Dinosaur Train now. It’s so fantastic!

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14 Rachel January 28, 2011 at 11:28 am

how cute! My kids will love this.

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15 Susan January 30, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Definitely tell me if your kids make something like it.

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16 dahlia January 29, 2011 at 1:45 am

Your dinosaur turned out really cute! Thanks for sharing the process of how you made it, along with the photo.

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17 Susan January 30, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Thank you!

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18 Erica January 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Okay, that is SUPER CUTE!

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19 Susan January 30, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Thank so much Erica! I’m glad you like it.

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20 Nan January 29, 2011 at 7:20 pm

You did a great job! But I’m right there with you that it’s a “mom project”. I have a kindergartener as well, and totally rebelled about the homework! It means I had to organize it, teach it and write it and remember to turn it in. grrrr….

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21 Susan January 30, 2011 at 6:27 pm

LOL… We’ll rebel together.

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22 christieo January 30, 2011 at 12:00 am

That turned out ADORABLE!!! A couple of years ago at my son’s preschool (he was 2 at the time) one of the teachers at his school asked for someone to make a fountain for their spring festival presentation. I’ve never made anything like this before and have NO IDEA why I raised my hand, but there I was, hand raised to make a fountain. A FOUNTAIN! I did hours and hours of research and was completely intimidated but in the end, it really was easy and came out pretty darned good (I must say myself), just a pump and a hose and a decorated piece of plywood and a bucket did the trick! Who knew! Great job, love the dinosaur! I’m still afraid of the impending projects though! LOL

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23 Susan January 30, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Wow! A fountain? That is a huge undertaking. Way to go with getting that done.

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