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If you were going to study dinosaurs


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How would you break it down? By period, this seems a little daunting to me but might be doable. A timeline might be fun. By type, meat eater vs. plant eater. Or just pick the most popular, learn as much about them as possible and call it a day.


Thanks for any suggestions,




Oh, kids are ages 8, 7 & 5 If that helps.

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I would:

1) Use Helen Bonner's books


The books are written in cartoon format, and they lay out the prehistoric ages quite well, starting BEFORE dinosaurs.


Also, even though they are cartoon in format, they may be a little above the age of your 5yo.


2) Definitely keep a timeline. I would use different colored computer paper to differentiate the different eras.


3) Watch Dinosaur Train on PBS to add dinosaur names to the timeline. You can watch online, and PBS Parentshas lots of support materials. We have a tivo for $12/month (no cable or satellite) to save all the kids' shows, but you can watch episodes online if a tivo doesn't fit in your budget.


3) Make a master list of Carnivores vs. Herbivores


4) We would talk about how the earth looked different then (landmasses), felt different then (temperature was warmer), and had a different mix of gases in the air (oxygen levels were higher, I believe). This would include discussions of plate tectonics, volcanoes creating land/islands, and global warming.


5) Sea Rex We saw this in the IMAX at the Science Center. It's a little hokie, but it differentiates between Marine Reptiles and Dinosaurs. It also dramatizes scenes with George Cuvier, father of paleontology.


6) Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia Another IMAX at the Science Center. This was kinda scary for our (at the time) 4yo, so prescreen if your little one is sensitive.


7) Do a general search for "Nova Dinosaurs." There is Arctic Dinosaurs (seen it :thumbup1: ), Dinosaur Plague, The Dinosaurs Were Not Alone, and The Four Winged Dinosaurs. You should be able to watch these online, but I'd do a search to see if Netflix carries any of them.


8) I would do a little math to compare the kids' ages to when the dinosaurs lived by comparing distance.

--Dd2 = 2yo = 2ft

--Dd1 = 6yo = 6ft (mark on the floor).

--Mom/Dad = 42yo = from here to the mailbox?

--Grandmas age = ???

--Dinosaurs died = 65,000,000mya = 12,310mi = halfway around the world

--Beginning of cretaceous = 145,000,000 mya = 27,462 mi = more than all the way around the world, + 3000 more miles.(so go around the world, plus an extra vacation to......???)


9) No study of Paleontology is complete without Mary Anning. See what your public library has.


10) American Experience: Dinosaur Wars -- competition between Marsh and Cope in the early days of paleontology. Discussion of how some things were gotten wrong about dinosaurs at the time, but science is a system that allows for learning and correction.


11) Another timeline: Modern Paleontology: Put Anning, Marsh, Cuvier, Cope, and Darwin on them.


12) The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins Add Waterhouse to the recent timeline. Another discussion about how sometimes science gets it wrong, but it is a system that allows for learning and correction.


13) I did a search for "Dinosaur Biography" at our library. This gives 5 more books that could be read to the kids, and possibly added to the timeline.


14) Go to You Tube. Do a search for "TED TALKS Paleontology". This exposes your kids to recent ideas in dinosaur paleontology.


The ones by Jack Horner are especially good and very cutting edge. He was the scientist upon whom "Jurassic Park" was based. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, GO!!! AND TAKE THE KIDS!!! His lectures are very kid friendly!!!


15) Does your state have a state fossil? Ours does: Iowa's state fossil is the Crinoid. We discuss this with dd, and how Iowa was once covered by a shallow sea. She identifies crinoids in a display at the science center.


16) Loverboy has bought a few fossils through The Rock Shed including a crinoid. He says to check out the clearance pages.


17) Go Fossil Hunting Locally. An hour-and-a-half north of us, there is a park/area where the public can go fossil digging. Do a google search for "[your state] dig fossils" and see if you can find anything.


18) Quick discussion of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. Sedimentary rocks are where most fossils are found. Discussion of how dinosaur bones are dated (NOT carbon dating!!!) Gotta go because the kids are up, but here is an article:




19) Watch Jurassic Park :hurray: . Yeah, it's all fiction, but the dinosaurs are cool!

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I'm in in the middle of planning but wanted to add a resource. This Children's Museum has a fantastic set of unit studies on dinosaurs and they are geared toward specific ages (k-8). Here is a unit for K-2 in PDF form and here is the unit for 3-5 (I selected parts from both levels actually)


I don't know if it varies from their online plans which appear to be broken down by specific grades more (click lesson plan at the bottom of each page for printable lesson or activity plan) Actually there are all kinds of resources (readers, games, I don't know what; I don't think they had that much when I first found those pdfs) on their dinosphere portion of the site.


Edited to add: I am including fossil study in my dinosaurs unit. If you have already done fossils maybe you don't need that but we haven't and I don't know how we would do a dinosaur study without also doing fossils.


My lesson progression is that we follow a unit on fossils, then paleontology, what they looked like (fossils tell us including exploring size), what they did (ate for example; again, ties back to fossils), dinosaur names and types (this is one of the sections were I am using a lot from those Children Museum lessons), more in depth study selecting a few they want to explore specifically, dinosaur extinction. Bill Nye does have a dinosaurs video (usually you can find them online); it's not young earth friendly.

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