Ideas and Activities for a Dinosaur Unit


Activities | Learning Centers | Resource Websites | Websites for Kids



  • Dinosaur ABCs - Write a list of dinosaur names on a chart or on the board. Have students put the names in alphabetical order.

  • Dinosaur Word Wall - Create a large dinosaur out of bulletin board paper and attach to the wall.  Add Dinosaur Word Wall header.  Write vocabulary words on the wall as they learn new concepts.

  • Digging for Dinosaurs - Read Digging for Dinosaurs by Aliki to the students. Explain that paleontologists are scientists that study dinosaur bones. Then have students do their own digging by using chocolate chip cookies, a toothpick, and small paintbrushes.  The students need to "excavate" the chocolate chip cookies using the toothpicks.

  • Dinosaur Mural - Create 3 murals based on the Triassic Period, Jurassic Period, and the Cretaceous Period. Have students paint the murals and add dinosaurs that existed in the different time periods. Go to www.zoomdinosaurs.com to get a list of dinosaurs that existed in each time period.

  • Make a Fossil - Show students a real fossil if possible.  Then have students create their own using clay.  Let the clay harden.  Then have students  compare fossils and gather information from the fossils.

  • Dinosaur Fossil Finds - Have students learn geography and about the continents by showing students where dinosaur fossils have been found around the world.  Create a large map and label the continents.  Give students small pictures of different dinosaurs to color and cut-out.  Glue the dinosaurs on the continents on which their fossils have been found. 

  • What's In A Name? - Make a chart with a list of prefixes and suffixes of dinosaur names.  Explain how dinosaurs are named for certain characteristics. Then give students a list of dinosaur names.  They will write the meaning of the dinosaur names, such as Tyrannosaurus Rex= tyrant lizard king.

  • Create Your Own Dinosaur - Use the chart from the activity above.  Have students create their own dinosaur by combining the prefixes and the suffixes.  Then, have students brainstorm characteristics of the dinosaur, such as the period it lived in, how big it was, what it looked like, what it ate, how it walked, and etc. Then they will draw a picture of the dinosaur based on it's name and characteristics.  Using the words from the brainstorm, they write a paragraph about their dinosaur.  Once everything has been edited, have students make a poster of their dinosaur with the paragraph at the bottom.  Hang up posters around the classroom or in hallway.

  • Graph your Favorite Dinosaur - Pick 4-6 dinosaurs that are popular with the students. Have them vote on their favorite dinosaur.  Write the tally and create a graph based on the results. Then create questions based on the graph for students to answer.  Other types of dino graphs: Tallest Dinosaur, Scariest Dinosaur, Smallest Dinosaur, Heaviest Dinosaur.

  • Understanding Dinosaur Measurements - Pick several dinosaurs of varying sizes.  Take students to the playground and have them draw with chalk the height of each dinosaur using measuring tape.  Have students lie next to their "drawings" to compare heights. Then have students line up along the dinosaurs to find out how many students it would take to reach the height of the different dinosaurs.

  • Understanding Dinosaur Weight - Pick the weight of a heavy dinosaur (or a favorite dinosaur). Bring in a scale and weigh each student.  Average out their weight.  Then see how many students it would take to measure up to the dinosaur.

  • Geometric Dinosaurs - Have students create dinosaurs using geometric shapes.  Let students cut out circles, triangles, and squares of differing sizes and colors.  Have them piece together a dinosaur and glue to construction paper. With crayon, have them create a background for the dinosaur.

  • Pterandon Hanger - Create a flying pterandon using a hanger.  Wrap the hanger, including the hook, with brown butcher paper. Create an eloganted head and glue to the hook part of the hanger.  Add wings and feet and have the pterandons fly through the classroom hanging from the ceiling.

  • Dinosaur Skeletons - Create dinosaur skeletons using white pipe cleaners.  Place completed skeletons in a museum setting.

  • Dinosaur Eggs - One type of fossil is dinosaur eggs.  Have students create their own, very large dinosaur egg using balloons and paper maiche.  Once the egg dries, have students paint the it to look like an egg.  Create a nest out of hay or straw (found at A.C. Moore or Michael's) and place dried eggs inside.  Place in the dinosaur museum.

  • Dino Estimation - Place dinosaur crackers/candy in a jar.  Have students guess how many dinosaurs are in the jar.  Award the winner a dinosaur pencil/sticker, etc. and have the kids share the candy among them.

  • Dinosaur Adjectives - Show a large picture of a dinosaur to the class. Have students brainstorm words that describe the dinosaur, including words on size, shape, color, etc. Then have students create sentences using as many of the listed adjectives as they possibly can. From there, students can create vivid dinosaur stories.

  • Past-Tense Dinosaurs - Teach students about past tense by having them write a paragraph on a dinosaur.  Explain to students that dinosaurs existed in the past and are no longer present.  Therefore, when they write their paragraph, they must remember to use past-tense verbs in their writing.  Edit the children's work when they have completed their writing.

  • Alike & Different - Using pictures of two dinosaurs (preferably a meat-eater and a plant-eater), create a Venn diagram to display what makes the dinosaurs different and alike.

Learning Centers

  • Dinosaur Concentration - Create dinosaur cards by cutting out dinosaur clipart and gluing them to index cards. On separate index cards write the names of the dinosaurs.  Have students match the pictures with the names.  You can also use these cards as flashcards.

  • Ordinal Numbers - Place dinosaur shapes or cards in an envelope.  On a piece of paper, write instructions to the students having them place the dinosaurs in a certain order. For example, T-rex is first, apatosaurus is second, etc. This is a great way for students practice their ordinal numbers.

  • Math Flashcards - Create math flashcards using dinosaur shapes.  You can use small stickers, clipart, or a stamp and index cards to create these flashcards.  Create one stack for addition and one stack for subtraction.  An example would be to show 3 dinosaurs + 5 dinosaurs = .

  • Dinosaur Dictionary - Using the words on the word wall, assign 1-2 students every day to this center to create a dinosaur dictionary.  Have students write the word, the definition, and create an illustration of one vocabulary word on a sheet of paper. Then, they attach the paper to a binder or place in a folder.  Once it is complete, bind the dictionary complete with a cover. Place in your library.

  • Dinosaur Basket - In this basket, place coloring sheets of dinosaurs which can be found in a 99 cent store.  I add problems or skills to each coloring page so that it is not just a coloring activity but a reinforcement activity.

  • Dinosaur Journal - Place a notebook or themed journal in the center. Invite students to write inside the journal about things they have learned, their thoughts on dinosaurs, how they feel, what they want to learn, and more.  This will make a great momento for you and will help you plan a better unit for the following year.

Resource Websites for Teachers

Websites for Kids

Billy Bear Dinosaur Page Dino Fun Games Dinosaur Floor Dinosaur Museum
Dinosaur Safari Dinosaurs at Scholastic.com Discovering Dinosaurs Dinos Rock Story
Dinosaur Concentration Paul Sereno's Dinosaur Site Curse of T-Rex Dinotopia
Fighting Dinosaurs Smithsonian Dinosaurs Dinosaur Movie Dinosaur Dig