If anyone else out there has a high needs kiddo, you know that any activity that occupies them for more than, oh 5 minutes (HA), is a win. My three year old is going through a dinosaur phase so combining dinosaurs with his long-time favorite activity "getting dirty" actually bought me a good 20 minutes which is longer than most activities we've tried! It's March in New England so our garden beds are still empty and the perfect spot to stage a paleontologist dig. Bonus: the digging readies your soil for planting!
I hid 12 plastic dinosaurs in our garden and gave him a trowel, a rake, and a pastry brush from our kitchen. This could really work with any toy, though.