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Table of Contents
Lesson Overview
Teacher Background Information
Lesson Focus
Objective Grid
Lesson 1: Long Ago
-Appendix A - Dinosaur
-Thumbprint Dinosaurs
Lesson 2: Extinction
Lesson 3: Fossils
Lesson 4: Types of Dinosaurs
Lesson 5: Meat and Plant Eaters
Lesson 6: The Dinosaur's Life Cycle
Lesson 7: Nature and Change
Spanish Language Translations

Dinosaurs - Lesson 1: Long Ago

On this page
- Encountering the Idea
- Exploring the Idea
- Getting the Idea
- Organizing the Idea
- Closure and Assessment
- List of Activities for this Lesson

BIG IDEAS: Dinosaurs existed many years ago; we have found their bones. Zero is the number that tells how many dinosaurs exist today.

Whole Group Activities

  • Book: The Day of the Dinosaur by S. & J. Berenstain
  • Various books on dinosaurs and prehistoric times for the Library Center
  • Playdough, colors, markers, paints at the Art Center
  • Dinosaur books that have been taped at the Listening Center
  • Plastic dinosaurs, two of each kind, and sorting trays for the Science Center
  • Large cardboard or poster board to make a wall mural of prehistoric times
  • Word tags to show during shared reading and then placed in the Writing Center: long ago; small; large; smallest; largest; zero, and numeral card with 0

Encountering the Idea

With the children seated on the floor so that all can see the illustrations and print, talk about the book, The Day of the Dinosaur. Ask the children if they can tell what the story is about. Read the story and show the illustrations to the children, sharing your reactions. Talk about time and size concepts.

Place a large drawing of a dinosaur (see Appendix A - Dinosaur) on a bulletin board or hang from the ceiling. Tell students: You will be learning about dinosaurs for the next two weeks, and some of the things you will be doing in this unit are: digging for dinosaur bones, making fossils, eating dinosaur "food," eating dinosaur eggs, and writing and illustrating a class Big Book on dinosaurs.

Before sending the students to the centers, explain what each center contains and model the activities, if necessary. Assign or allow children to choose a center. Tell the children that all of them will complete the activities in the Mathematics, Writing and Science Centers.

Exploring the Idea

At the Art Center the students complete three activities.
  1. Activity - A Picture of Long Ago. Tell the students that in order to understand about dinosaurs, and what they were like, we need to know about the time when they lived. What was the earth like? What kinds of food were available for the giant lizards? We will discover all of this as we read our books.

    To learn about the conditions that existed on earth at the time of the dinosaurs the students make a wall mural, A Picture of Long Ago, showing the earth during prehistoric times. They make drawings and cutouts of dinosaur types and shapes to include in the mural. The students make a bulletin board next to the mural to write questions about dinosaurs they would like to explore and their hypothesized answers. As they find the answers to their questions, they include them on the bulletin board.

  2. Activity - Thumbprint Dinosaurs

  3. Students make large and small dinosaur shapes with geometric shapes.
    At the Mathematics and Science Centers, the children complete a sequencing and classifying activity. They sequence cutouts of various sizes of dinosaur shapes and/or egg shapes, in different ways, such as smallest to largest. They also sort the plastic dinosaurs in a sorting tray in as many ways as they can think of.

Getting the Idea

When we say "It was long ago," what do we mean? Does it mean yesterday? Does it mean many years ago, before you were born? Before your parents were born? It could mean all of these things, but in this unit, when we say "long ago" we are going to mean a very long time ago. We will be talking about the time when there were only animals and plants on the land. There were no people. We are talking about a time that we know very little about, because there were no people around to remember it and tell stories about it to their children. The only way we know about what went on at that time is that we can dig in the earth and find the remains of the plants and animals that have not decayed or rotted.

Paleontologists have found fossils, not only of dinosaurs and of plants like ferns and mosses, but of other kinds of animals. (Show pictures of dinosaurs and other animals.) There were huge bears, and mastodons that were like our present-day elephants, and giant tigers called sabertooths because their teeth were sharp like sabers or knives. Most of these animals and plants are now extinct, but there are some animals and plants that still resemble these prehistoric animals. Lizards of today, crocodiles, turtles and whales look in many ways similar to animals that lived on earth at the time of the dinosaurs.

When we say that something is "big", or that something is "little", what do we mean? (Pause for student responses.) Yes, we compare things to see which is taller or longer. What do we mean when we say that something is "the biggest"? Yes, that means that there is nothing that we're talking about that is bigger. We will discover more about "big" things and "little" things by studying the dinosaurs.

When we say that zero is the number that tells us how many dinosaurs there are in existence today, what do we mean? Yes, zero tell us that the set of all dinosaurs on earth today is empty. There are no dinosaurs today. What does the number zero look like? Yes, it is a big circle with nothing in it - like the empty set. Show students a card with the numeral zero.

Organizing the Idea

The students participate in the following activity:

Choral Speaking and Role Playing
Dinosaurs of Long Ago

The dinosaurs lived long ago,
and walked like this, and that. (Slow, heavy walk movement.)
Some were large (Stretch hands upwards.)
and some were small. (Crouch down.)
Some liked water (Swimming motions.)
and some just walked on land. (Stomp feet.)
Some had wings, that flapped and flapped. (Flap arms.)
Some had long necks, that stretched and stretched. (Hand on neck stretching upward.)
The meanest, rudest one of all was ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex.
(Feet apart, hands clawlike, scowl and growl.)
These were the dinosaurs of long ago.
Goodness gracious, where did they go?

Author Unknown
Modified by Maria E. Torres

Closure and Assessment

Reconvening the whole class for closure, engage them in repeating the choral speaking and role playing.

Use the dinosaur drawing to make a concept web to review the Big Ideas, as suggested below. A concept web is a graphic organizer for information that is similar to an outline.

To increase student interest, use shapes and colors to highlight the central figure, a dinosaur in this case.

Oral Interviews

  1. What interesting animal did we read about today?
  2. What were some of the words we used today when we talked about dinosaurs? (Use words cards from the Writing Center to remind students about the new words learned during shared reading.)
  3. How large (how small) were dinosaurs?
  4. How long ago did they live?
  5. Let's make a list of other things you would like to know about dinosaurs. (Refer to the bulletin board that students started earlier in the lesson.)

Assess student participation in drawing the wall mural, in sequencing and classifying the plastic models in the Mathematics and Science Centers, in the choral speaking and role playing and in the level of completion of the thumbprint dinosaurs.

List of Appendices and Activities for this Lesson

  1. Appendix A - Dinosaur
  2. Thumbprint Dinosaurs

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