A couple of years ago I saw a post about two parents, Refe & Susan Tuma, who wrote an adorable book about how they convinced their children that dinosaurs take over their home every November and get into all sorts of trouble. They encouraged people to make their own Dinovember and post pictures, and I thought, I can totally do this!
And you can, too!
This will be our third Dinovember, and I’ve learned a few things over the years:
Plan ahead. The first year, my list was a scrap of paper with some random ideas. Now, it’s a spreadsheet that includes the theme for each day, what I need to buy in advance, and what I may need to do in advance. For example, one year our dinosaurs decided to garden. So I hit up my local hobby store’s clearance rack and found teeny tiny rakes and shovels for them. I also bought a couple of little herb plants. My birthday is in November, so the dinosaurs always celebrate with us. This means I have to stop at HEB and get a cupcake or two for them to destroy. Throughout the year, I keep an eye out for dinosaurs on sale and can usually find a good handful for a dollar or so.
You don’t have to do something every day. It took me a year of struggling to get creative every single day in November before someone pointed out that (a) my children could not read a calendar; and (b) they didn’t care if there was something going on daily. So now, we usually aim for three or so dino-disasters a week and the madness generally ends with Thanksgiving weekend.
Use what you’ve got. November 1 always kicks off with the dinosaurs getting into the Halloween candy. (Bonus: When your kids’ candy disappears before they can eat it, you can blame the dinosaurs.) There is a cookie baking day in there somewhere as I test out Christmas cookie ideas. Of course, Thanksgiving Day the dinosaurs get all over things. I usually find a tiny tree for them to decorate a couple of days after Thanksgiving. Last year, our dinosaurs even voted. (Spoiler alert: T-Rex won.) This year, our eclipse sunglasses will get a second use as the dinosaurs look for the next global event.
The idea of Dinovember is that the dinosaurs get into trouble with everyday things while the family is sleeping. Our dinosaurs are almost always guaranteed to make a mess of books, try to brush their teeth, take a bubble bath, settle in for movie night, and probably take the kids’ toys for several nights of fun. We have cats and dogs who also like to get in trouble and/or eat inappropriate things. So I spent one frantic November carefully getting up before the kids to place the scene so I didn’t have to worry about pet disasters overnight. Finally, someone (probably my husband) pointed out that the dinosaurs didn’t have to get in trouble overnight. Ever since, our dinosaurs get in trouble during the day while the kids are at school. It turns out, dinosaurs can get in trouble any time of day.
Use what other people have got. On Instagram, search #dinovember or look at pictures in the official Dinovember Feed. On Facebook, check out the official Dinovember Page. There are people all over the world who let their dinosaurs run wild for a month and post pictures. Don’t be afraid to use other people’s ideas. You are welcome to see what I’ve done over the past two years, and follow this year’s exploits on my Instagram.
Think outside the box. We are pretty loose with our definition of “dinosaur,” and the kids’ favorite dragon frequently gets in on the fun. I’ve also started using the month to introduce new toys/crafts/books. Last year I made dino tails, which were surprisingly easy to create, and my children still tie them on and run around roaring periodically. I found a miniature dinosaur painting kit at a hobby store on clearance last July and bought it to hang onto for a craft project. Last year, I bought The Good Dinosaur, and after the dinosaurs had their movie day, we had a family movie night to watch it. This year, my kids are learning to read, so I suspect a dinosaur-themed book or two will make an appearance. We always decorate the dinosaur-shaped cookies that our dinosaurs bake for us. And when our dinosaurs get the itch to clean up, I remind the kids that if dinosaurs can do it, so can they.
Have fun! This is not supposed to add to the stress of an already crazy holiday season. It should be fun. Don’t like dinosaurs? Let your tigers loose! Let those Transformers or Power Rangers run amok. Barbies can be bad girls, too! It doesn’t have to be an every day thing, either. Maybe your dinosaurs are lazy and only get in trouble on the weekends. Maybe your dinosaurs are actually really helpful and they do things like clean up and brush their teeth and make nice treats instead of being troublemakers.
For me, this month is a chance to start conversations with my children about all sorts of unexpected things. It gives me an opportunity to spend time with them being creative. At this age, it seems most of my interactions with my children involve “no” and “don’t.” In November, the no’s and don’ts are reserved for dinosaur troublemakers.