Officially called Smilodon fatalis, sabertooth tigers lived about two million years ago and sported a distinctive set of giant fangs. Much of what scientists know about this animal comes from sabertooth fossils recovered from the La Brea Tar Pits in California, according to National Geographic. Encourage your child's fascination with these incredible predators with some creative activities.
Enrich your child's pretend play by making sabertooth masks together. Start with a blank mask from a craft store or create your own by cutting eye and nose holes in a paper plate and attaching a length of string on either side. Offer your child an assortment of non-toxic paint colors that she can use to paint in the sabertooth's features, including the fearsome fangs. Smilodon was not striped like a modern tiger, so look for sabertooth pictures in books or online if your kiddo wants a more realistic look.
As your budding scientist learns more about sabertooth tigers, she may want to display her research in a creative way. Ask her to make a sabertooth tiger book with an illustration and one fact about Smilodon on each page. Or she can draw a poster representing a sabertooth habitat or food chain. Invite her to transform a shoe box into a prehistoric diorama with paint and markers.
Show your child how to make familiar games with a sabertooth theme. To create a memory match game, ask her to draw different parts of the prehistoric beast on index cards, such as fangs, tail and ears. Have her draw each part twice, creating a matched pair. Shuffle and place the cards face down to play. Or ask her to draw a sabertooth tiger on a blank puzzle and then work together to reassemble the puzzle. Change "Simon Says" into "Smilodon Says" and ask your child to do things a sabertooth tiger might do, such as stalking prey, hiding in the tall grass or drinking from a river.
Make sabertooth tiger puppets with your child using lunch-sized brown paper bags and construction paper. Turn the bag upside down with the rectangle that is meant to be the bottom of the bag facing you. Have your child draw the eyes and nose on this rectangle, and tape half circles of construction paper to the top as ears. Tape long thin triangles of paper to the bottom of the rectangle to create fangs -- don't tape the flap closed, as this will become the mouth. Invite your child to put her hand into the bag and put on a prehistoric puppet show for you.