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Dinosaur Escape: How a Co-op Game Can Strengthen 6 Social and Emotional Skills

Updated: Sep 13, 2021


Recommended age: 4-11

For: Individuals or groups

Will enhance social and emotional skills:

  • Self Awareness: Self confidence, Identify own strengths and limits

  • Self Management: Sustain attention and focus, impulse control and delay gratification, Emotional regulation

  • Relationship Skills: Collaboration skills


The first activity I want to share and discuss is Peaceable Kingdom's Dinosaur Escape Board Game. It is honestly one of my most played board games to strengthen a child's social and emotional skills. I use it primarily to strengthen skills in the social and emotional domains of self awareness, self management and relationship building. Click here to read my recent article detailing each domain and skills.

Cooperative board game

Dinosaur Escape, like all Peaceable Kingdom games, is built from the ground up to be a cooperative game. The object is to help three dinosaurs (Stegosaurus, Brachiosaurus and Triceratops) escape their land before the volcano erupts. All the players are on the same team to compete against the impeding eruption.

The best part about a cooperative board game is the focus of the competition is with the game itself, rather than between players. Just like traditional competitive board games, this requires skill, effort and chance, but because of the cooperative element, it also requires collaboration between players. Therefore there is more focus on shared emotions and experiences which promotes social connection and relationship building.

What's in the box?

Dinosaur Escape includes 3 dinosaur figures, 5 volcano pieces, 12 fern tokens, game die and the game board.

The appeal

Dinosaurs are probably some of the most universally appealing prehistoric creatures. Whether it is their majestic size, unique capabilities or the mystery why they no longer roam the Earth, there is something really intriguing about dinosaurs.

I find them to be gender neutral and begins to appeal to children at an early age. I have never seen a child not interested when I introduce the game! And if there are ever any skepticism, the dinosaur figures quickly expels them. The figures comes with full details and color are exactly like the dinosaur figures you'll find at the toys store.

Even the children who are generally "not into board games" are intrigued by a game that can successfully incorporate toys. The figures really add a layer of dimension to the visual and tactile experience. Many children I work with will request to play the game, just so they can play with the dinosaur figures!

Another game piece I need to highlight is the volcano. It is made of five cardboard pieces, and is assembled by connecting them horizontally on top of one another in a "3D" effect. This allows the volcano to be visible at all angles. The attention to detail is this emphasizes the sheer presence of the volcano, which highlights the challenge of the game - save the dinosaurs before the destructive eruption.

How the game works

The objective of the game is to help the three dinosaurs escape to the island off the coast of the mainland before the volcano erupts. The volcano is located right in the middle of the mainland which has 4 distinct habitat areas (Forest, Mountain, Canyon and Desert).

There are 12 fern tokens, on one side are identical ferns and the other side has the three dinosaurs, a T-Rex and various prehistoric objects. The 12 tokens are placed randomly with the fern side up in the Forest, Mountain and Canyon habitat areas.

The dinosaurs start in the desert area and will have to find their matching token to escape the mainland. All the players of the game work together by moving the dinosaurs to different habitat areas to locate their matching tokens. If a dinosaur lands in an area with tokens, the player can reveal a token.

If the token is not the image of the dinosaur that revealed it, the player must place it back face down. The process repeats until players can help the dinosaurs locate their matching token. Once the matching token is found, the dinosaur escapes safely to the island.

The pace of the game is controlled by the game die that has numbers (2,3, 4) and an image of the volcano. Players are able to move their dinosaurs when they roll a number. But if a player rolls the volcano, a volcano piece is assembled. The volcano erupts after all 5 pieces are assembled and the game is over if all the dinosaurs have not made it to the island.

The 6 Social and Emotional Skills

Self Awareness Domain

The Self Awareness domain is a child's ability to accurately recognize their own emotions, thoughts and values which allows them to be more conscious of their actions and behaviors. This is important because when a child is more aware of themselves both internally and externally, they are better able to navigate life challenges and make appropriate decisions.

1. Build self confidence - The game requires skills, effort and chance to win the game. A child can build their self confidence when they experience progress and results when they apply their skills a