Playing, learning and dreaming with a dinosaur-themed bedtime routine

Sleep is essential for healthy and happy kids. Try these Triassic tricks with Canon Creative Park to help your dinosaur-loving child drift off.
An assembled dinosaur papercraft night light hangs on a wall in a child's room.

Teeth brushed, pyjamas on, tucked into bed: that's how most kids' bedtime routines go, usually followed by a couple of stories before lights out. But if your child is currently obsessed with dinosaurs – and, let's face it, along with unicorns and astronauts, this is a phase that most of them will go through – there are plenty of ways you can incorporate this passion into their daily bedtime routine, with a little help from Canon Creative Park.

Also available as an app, Creative Park offers thousands of free papercraft templates you can make with your children, including an entire range dedicated to dinosaurs: from a pop-up card and colouring pages to masks and more.

Not only is papercrafting a fun way to fire up your imagination, it's also an affordable, screen-free activity you can do at home, regardless of the weather – no tickets to book, long train journeys to undertake or lunches to buy. Creative Park is packed with brilliant, dinosaur-themed paper templates that you can make together. And when you've spent a day making puppets or sculptures, you can use them to create a bedtime routine that takes you back to a time when giant reptiles roamed the earth.

Get set for some crafting

An overhead shot of a dinosaur papercraft template, downloaded from Canon Creative Park, emerging from a Canon PIXMA printer.

The Canon PIXMA TS5350a Series allows you to print straight from your smartphone on various types of paper, such as glossy, plain, matte, semi-gloss and more.

You won't need much to make your dinosaur papercrafts – any Canon PIXMA printer, for example, the PIXMA TS5350a Series, will work well, as will Canon Matte Photo Paper. You will also need enough pairs of scissors for everyone, craft glue or sticky tape, wooden lollipop sticks, a household torch and a battery pack of safety LEDs.

There is an array of inspiring dinosaur paper models on Creative Park for your children to get excited about, each suitable for a different level of expertise, which is indicated by a rating of up to five stars. If you're eager to give your kid's bedtime routine a Triassic twist, look no further than the Tyrannosaurus wall sculpture, head masks – choose from T-rex, Triceratops or Pteranodon – or the dinosaur diorama. Download them, print them out and you're off.

1. Make a glowing dinosaur night light

A person uses a pair of scissors to cut a dinosaur papercraft template downloaded from Canon Creative Park.

Although scissors are fine, you might choose to use a cutting board and utility knife for some of the more complex templates and take the lead as a parent on those.

A person installs an assembled Canon Creative Park dinosaur night light on a wall.

Each Creative Park template is accompanied by an indication of approximate assembly time, so you can plan your day. The suggested time for the 3D T-rex is three hours.

This 3D T-rex head is a great addition to a bedroom wall, but it's even better if you transform it into a night light. Each Creative Park template comes with its own set of instructions, so you don't have to worry about getting confused. Simply cut out the sections and carefully follow the step-by-step guide. There's a fair amount of tricky folding and sticking involved, so your child might need a hand with this – from a parent, childminder, or an older sibling (if they're in a helpful mood). When folding, it can be useful to run a scissor blade or ruler along the crease first, as this will help to give you a nice clean fold. Once complete, leave the glue to dry.

Before you attach your mask to the wall using sharp tacks or small nails, tape some battery-operated safety LED lights to the inside. The location of the night light will ideally be somewhere your child can easily see and reach from their bed. You could even use colour-changing lights so your child can switch between them.

Once mounted on the wall, and fitted with remote control LED lights, your child can read their book under their dinosaur wall light, proudly crafted by their parent. This handmade night light is not only cheaper than buying a plastic one, but it is also recyclable, so when your child moves on from the dinosaur craze, or grows out of a night light, you can dispose of it sustainably.

2. Papercraft puppets and masks

A child stands by a table and uses a pair of scissors to cut a dinosaur papercraft template downloaded from Canon Creative Park.

These puppet designs can also be used with the dinosaur diorama to make puppet shows during the day, or kids can take them out into the garden for an adventure.

A child carefully assembles a dinosaur from the many available in the dinosaur diorama papercraft template available to download from Canon Creative Park.

Children learn best when they're playing. By using shadow puppets to tell a story, you can enhance what your child is studying at school in literature, science and history.

The dinosaur diorama is one of the more straightforward designs. If your child is old enough, you can let them take the lead on this. Once you've printed your templates, fold the puppets according to the instructions and then attach lollipop sticks with glue to make these models into shadow puppets. You can use a toothpick to apply the glue if you want to be sure of a neat result.

The Jurassic photo props also contain great templates for making shadow puppets, such as trees and volcanoes, if you want to add some scenery. If your child loves colouring in, why not get them to draw a big volcano or a tree-filled scene to put up on the wall as your shadow puppet background for bedtime? When your children's passion for dinosaurs goes extinct, there's no need to feel guilty about the environmental impact of these paper puppets as they are easily recycled, making them an eco-friendly alternative to non-biodegradable plastic toys.

3. Add some Jurassic theatrics to bedtime

A child sleeps in bed while hugging a dinosaur plush. Assembled dinosaurs from the Canon Creative Park dinosaur diorama template lie on a bedside table.

Since the dinosaur puppets are light and small, you don't need to worry about them taking up too much space. Your child can leave them on the bedside table and play with them as soon as they wake up.

Two people play with assembled Canon Creative Park dinosaur puppets as they cast shadows on the wall behind.

Experiment with holding the puppets at different distances from the torch to make the shadows appear larger or smaller. The same sized puppet can double as two characters, older and younger.

Once you have your finalised puppets, grab a torch, and dim the lights for interactive story time. Shine the torch from across the room and create stories with your puppets as they cast shadows on the wall.

Chances are, if your child is into dinosaurs, they'll already own a stack of picture books focused on the prehistoric age. Let them get involved in the storytelling by donning their dinosaur mask and joining in where they know the lines. Alternatively, grab your shadow puppets and a torch, fire up your imagination, and come up with some stories of your own. This is a great opportunity to sneak in some educational facts about different species of dinosaurs and make learning fun. Tell them about how palaeontologists have learned about dinosaurs by studying their fossilised remains. You could even tell the dramatic tale of how they were wiped out by an asteroid that hit the Earth millions of years ago, as evidence suggests.

Or simply use the puppets as characters in a story you've made up. This might be funny or serious. It might be a prompt to spark conversations about other issues your child might face, like being kind or courageous. Let your child take ownership of the story by having their own shadow puppet character. Another way to use the puppets is to help your child talk through the highs and lows of their day by letting the dinosaurs represent different emotions they felt at various points.

Bid the kids night-night

A child reaches his hand out to the assembled dinosaur night light, downloaded from Canon Creative Park, which hangs on a wall.

When it is finally time to sleep, your child can leave the light on and have their very own T-rex chomp away on any nightmares.

After winding down with the stories, it's time to say goodnight. Older children can keep reading by themselves for a while before switching off their dinosaur night light, while younger ones might prefer to leave it on if they're still afraid of the dark. There are so many ways to use papercraft to bring your family closer together by creating joyful memories of time spent together instead of staring at a screen – especially as blue light late in the evening has been proven to have a negative impact on sleep hygiene.

Why not have a go at making your own interactive bedtime routine for your dinosaur-obsessed little one?

Written by Rachel Segal Hamilton

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