Activity: Painting with Mud (Plus Book Review of I’m a Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian)

I'm a Dirty Donosaur Book review

About the book

From cover to cover, this book is simply brilliant. Janeen Brian obviously knows what makes children tick: a cheeky character, catchy words and a whole lot of muddy mess.

The simple, rhythmical text is engaging and fun to read aloud, and lends itself nicely to being sung.

This dirty dinosaur starts his day with a dirty snout. Body part by body part, he slowly covers himself in mud, and has a lot of fun along the way.

With an amusing use of verbs, the text also incites action for its young readers.  Children might enjoy re-enacting scenes from the story by sniffing, snuffing, shaking, tapping, stamping, splashing and sliding.

Ann James’ magic pencil and mud illustrations  celebrate fun and messiness and invite children to explore painting with mud.

Book Details:

Author: Janeen Brian

Illustrator: Ann James

ISBN: 978-0670076154

Format: Hardback

Publisher: Puffin Books/Penguin Group, March 2013

RRP: $19.99 (aud)

Suitable for ages: 2-4

Follow-up Activities:

The dinosaur most definitely looks like he’s having lots of fun in this book, which is probably why Cam asked if we could make some mud.

I’m not an outdoorsy person, so although I said yes, I was very cautious. I came across this great article at Adventures at Home with Mum, which put my mind at ease.

We used our outdoor saucepan to collect some dirt from the garden. Cam was really just so excited that I’d said yes!!

We added cinnamon and vinegar to the dirt (a great tip I learned from Adventures at Home with Mum to ensure we didn’t encounter any nasties).

Then Cam proceeded to add lots and lot of water.

And she enjoyed mixing the slush.

I drew 6 other animal outlines and attached them to the back fence.

I read the story a number of times, each time replacing the dinosaur with one of the animals attached to the back fence (E.g. I am a dirty duck). As I read the story, Cam painted the correct part of the animal with her muddy paint. We talked about the different body parts of each animal e.g. snouts, beaks, noses

Cam experimented with painting techniques

I just shake about the place.

I splatter it with mud.

I flick it in the muck.

Then Cam wanted to be the dirty dinosaur, and she painted herself

Cam asked me to read the book over and over and over again so she could act it out.

Then once the sprinkler was out she created her own stories and put on a show for her baby brother. Each of her stories always ended with ‘Oh, my gosh! I think I need a wash.’ Which, of course, warranted another run through the sprinkler.

Cam’s enthusiastic stories had Ike in fits of laughter.

She absolutely delighted in this muddy play, and I wonder why we hadn’t done it before.

Learning Experiences

  • Listen to rhyme as a language feature in texts
  • Engage with the text and recount the story in different contexts
  • Make meaning from the text and adapt that to develop personal stories
  • Develop curiosity and experimentation with dirt, water, cinnamon and vinegar
  • Explore natural materials
  • Experiment with mud as a painting medium
  • Trial a range of painting techniques
  • Discuss the differences between body parts of different animals

Activity: Painting with Mud (Plus Book Review of I’m a Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian)


  1. Oh Goodness! This just looks absolutely delightful… oh I’m certainly going to look for this book and we must try mud painting when it warms up enough! I love that she even painted herself (of course she did!)

  2. Thanks Cam! What a lovely muddy play day you had acting out the actions from “I’m a Dirty Dinosaur”. I have sent your pictures to the author and illustrator as well as the publisher at Penguin Books and I’m sure you will hear from them soon. You might be interested to know that Ann James, the illustrator, has just been visiting China to show her work and demonstrate her muddy painting and next week she’ll be at the Bologna Book Fair in Italy to show the Italians how to get Muddy too!

  3. Oh those pics just made me smile so much – just adorable! Mud painting looks like so much fun. R will LOVE this.

  4. Looks like lots of fun, messy play! Thanks for sharing with Mom’s Library!

  5. Look at the pure delight on her face :) Looks like a fab book too.

  6. Oh wow! What a fabulous time she had!
    Love your drawings too – talented mumma! :)
    I love how you can create such wonderful and enriching activities that tie in with the fabulous books you read! What a special childhood you’re giving your children! x

  7. Your little girl was clearly having such a great time. I used to love running through the sprinkler when I was little. Can’t wait for Possum to do it too.
    Love the look of this book. I’m going to keep an eye out for it.

  8. Ali said: On April 14, 2013

    Mud is just so good. This looks so fun. I love all those drawings lined up on the fence.

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  14. I think painting with mud would be JJ’s version of heaven. :)

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Activity: Painting with Mud (Plus Book Review of I’m a Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian)

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