Playing Dino Ball Your Way

invent the rules for an imaginary game featured in Dinosaur Train - Dino Ball!

  • Target Age:  3-6 
  • Learning Goals:  Teamwork; Sportsmanship
  • Related Episode: Episode 109: Armored Like an Ankylosaurus/Campout!


Young children experience a wide range of emotions that they might not be able to name yet. Help your children explore emotions with these activities.


  • small group of friends or siblings (at least 2 children are needed to play Dino Ball)
  • 4 sports cones (or something similar to serve as goal posts)
  • inflatable beach ball, foam ball, or balloons (anything soft, for safety)
  • large area to play this game (such as a field, or a park)
  • Dinosaur Train Field Guide
  • books about different kinds of dinosaurs


  1. Show your child the video clip from “Armored Like an Ankylosaurus” in which Hank and others play the game “Dino Ball.” Ask: Do you think dinosaurs played this game in real life? Why or why not? Help your child understand that while there were no people around during the time when the big dinosaurs lived, it is very unlikely that dinosaurs played ball games like people today do.
  2. Explain that today your child and his friends (or siblings) are going to pretend they are dinosaurs and invent their own version of Dino Ball. For safety, they will use a balloon as the “Dino Ball” rather than a heavy “gourd” like they do in the episode. Point out that every ball game has rules. To get the conversation started, you might ask the children to talk about some of the rules of other popular ball games they know (soccer, kickball, dodge ball, and so on.)
  3. Have the children use resources such as library books, the Internet or the Dinosaur Train Field Guide to select a type of dinosaur or pterosaur they would like to be to play Dino Ball. They might be a T. rex like Buddy, with tiny arms, huge legs and a tail. Or they might be a Pteranodon like Tiny, Shiny and Don and have wings to “fly” around the Dino Ball field.
  4. Have each child talk about how the animal he or she picked might hit the Dino Ball (beach ball etc.) How, for example, could she use her arms to pretend she has a tail? By holding one hand near their bottom, they might pretend that it is a tail.
  5. Set up two goals, using the sports cones. Explain that the children will divide into two teams. The overall goal is for each team to work together to get the ball to the other side. The first team to earn 5 points wins. Help the children figure out some additional rules to make the game interesting. Some suggestions:
    • What if the goalies on each team can only use their “tail” (arm behind them) to block the ball?
    • What if players have to clap their hands quickly three times before hitting the ball?
    • What if some of the players on each team can only hit the ball with their heads?
    • What if players can only talk with each other by “roaring”? How can they communicate – “pass the ball to me?”
    • What if you played the game with two balls (different colors), so that each team was trying to get its ball to the other side?
    • What if there’s a time limit? For example, what if each team has only a minute to get their ball to the other side — then it switches to the other team.

Take it Further
  • Use this activity to help your child discuss the importance of good "sportsmanship." Why is it important to treat all the players fairly? What can each child do to make sure that everyone has fun, and that no one’s feelings are hurt? You might have each Dino Ball game end with players on each side shaking hands (or bumping tails!) and saying, "Good game!" with a smile.

Dinosaur Train A to Z


Find more activities featuring your child’s favorite PBS KIDS character!