Chances are good that you barely remember what you had for dinner last night, or who backstabbed whom on the most recent episode of Succession. Your dinosaur-obsessed child, on the other hand, can easily rattle off the difference between the diplodocus and the mamenchisaurus, and tell you with supreme confidence that of course the velociraptor was a feathered carnivore with enlarged claws. And by association, these same reptile aficionados love cool, big dinosaur toys. There’s something about the majestic, powerful, and extinct creatures that captures the imaginations of children across most age groups.
“Dinosaurs are exciting and powerful but relatable,” says education professor Keith Sawyer, who studies and teaches about creativity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “In the case of dinosaurs, both boys and girls play with them. It’s not gendered. That’s a really good thing.”
When choosing dinosaur toys, use your common sense: Pick the right toy for your child’s level of cognitive development. Make sure the toy is neither too challenging or too simplistic, or else kids will be bored or overwhelmed. And lean in to your kid’s preferences: If she loves puzzles, get her one; if he’s into action figures, go with those.
The Best Dinosaur Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Go big or go home, parents. This ride-on, meant for kids three and up, has a mouth that opens and closes. It goes 6mph forward and 3mph in reverse. It fits kids weighing up to 65 pounds. That's a damn lot of kid.
This colorful T. Rex stands up on its own and comes in at about two and a half feet from nose to tail, and the polyester fabric means it's super soft and huggable. And sometimes, that's enough.
This massive three-foot-tall T. Rex has articulated arms and legs, and extra-wide jaws that can open and close. But wait for it. This thing can swallow 20 of its smaller foes and then to release them, kids just open its belly.
This particular T. Rex dinosaur walks, moves its limbs, and even roars. It's made of plastic and has no sharp edges, so it's safe for younger dinosaur-obsessed kids. Its eyes glow and yes, oh yes, it roars. A lot.
Sometimes the simplest toys are the best. These models are covered in felt, and they range in species from the well-known (T. Rex and Velociraptor) to the obscure (Pachycephalosaurus and Ankylosaurus).
Little kids can create their very own Jurassic World with this complete set of nine dinosaur action figures, as well as a colorful dino mat so they can hone their exploration skills. Kids get all the big guys, including the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Giganotosaurus, Therizinosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Velociraptor, Acrocanthosaurus and Brachiosaurus..
The Best Dinosaur Toys for 5-Year-Olds
This highly-detailed dinosaur set from Playmobil features a T.Rex with movable arms, legs, and jaw allow. Kids four and up maraud through Dino Island to find the hidden temple that houses the T.Rex. Coolest of all is the UV flashlight that kids can use to reveal glow-in-the dark features, such as with the ruins crystal eyes, and jungle plants.
Budding paleontologists first put these eggs in water to soften them. And then, they use the chiseling tool (included) to crack away at the exterior to reveal the dinosaur inside. Each egg corresponds to its type of dinosaur.
It's a surprise toy, dino-edition. Kids smash these dinosaur eggs, and find the treasures inside. By treasures, we mean slime, putty, and bones. The goal is to collect all the bones to build a Brontosaurus or T.Rex.
The Best Dinosaur Toys for 6-Year-Olds
Kids press a button to make this dinosaur's head strike forward and jaws chomp. In addition to its chomping jaws, kids press a spine plate to trigger a tail swipe.
This plastic mask has moving eyes and a mouth that opens to bare sharp teeth. Modeled after Blue from Jurassic World, this mask has three levels of sound effects – from growls to roars — and goes nicely with (separately sold) claw gloves for an even more realistic dinosaur costume.
A dinosaur without claws is just a 'saur. These kid-sized claws fit nicely over kiddie hands and turn every play paleontologist into an actual human dino. Each claw has an elastic band inside for a snug fit.
This 174-piece Lego kit comes with instructions for three different dino builds. Kids can toggle between creating a Pterodactyl, Triceratops, and T. Rex.
The Best Dinosaur Toys for 7-Year-Olds and 8-Year-Olds
A breathtaking 200-piece jigsaw puzzle for third graders that pays proper homage to the extinct giants.
This kit is a celebration of the human heroes of the dinosaur world, the scientists who find fossils and study them. This dig brick comes with tools similar to those used by real paleontologists on real fossil digs. Once kids finish excavating, the full-color booklet that's also included is packed with educational information.
Land-bound dinosaurs get most of the love, but this flying Pterodactyl drone will quickly become your kid's favorite. This is basically a quadcopter drone with a Pterodactyl on top, that's easy for kids to operate (read: not crash). There's an Auto Circle mode that causes the Pterodactyl to circle its prey below and Auto Land mode for when it's ready to go in for the kill. And while they don't keep it aloft, the Pterodactyl's wings do the next best thing and flap realistically.
When you mess with nature, nature messes right back. At least, that's the lesson of Jurassic World. In this Lego build, kids play out a dinosaur escape with an Egg Spinner ride, a rampaging Triceratops, a collapsing fence and buggy with a dangling carrot that might be able to lure the dino back into its enclosure.
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