Related Resources
Lesson Plan Database contains ideas for school day and afterschool lessons in the Arts, Literacy, Math, Science, and Technology.
Paso Partners - Integrating Mathematics, Science, and Language: An Instructional Program Purchase a print copy of Paso Partners
Introduction Grade K Lessons Grade 1 Lessons Grade 2 Lessons Grade 3 Lessons Bibliography
Table of Contents
Lesson Overview
Teacher Background Information
Lesson Focus
Objective Grid
Lesson 1: Long Ago
Lesson 2: Extinction
Lesson 3: Fossils
-Two Legs or Four Legs
-Fossil Prints
-Fossil Hunting Lesson
-Fossil Matching
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 3: Fossils

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

BIG IDEAS: Paleontologists dig for fossils to help us learn about the kinds of animals that lived long ago. Good guesses can be made from careful observations.

Whole Group Activities

  • Book: Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones by B. Barton.
  • Baby paraphernalia: pacifier; clean diaper; jar of baby food; article of clothing such as a shoe; and, any other objects that would suggest a baby's presence. Arrange these articles on a table where students can easily see and study them.
  • Chart tablet with sample chart from Activity - Fossil Hunting
  • Hats/caps for the paleontologists
  • At the Mathematics Center: dinosaur crackers and/or cookies for counting and sorting
  • Word tags: paleontologist; fossils; imprints

Encountering the Idea

Students, guess what happened today before school! We had a visitor, but the visitor could not stay and left before I got here. I don't know who the visitor was, but there are some things that were left here that were not here before. Can you help me guess who this visitor was? Let's look at all of these things and see what kind of detectives we are. Can you list some of these things? Yes, diaper, baby food, pacifier. The shoe is very small. Who do you think our visitor was? A baby! Tell me some more about this baby. Is it big? Oh, the diaper is not the smallest, but medium. Okay, so our baby is a medium-size baby. Do you think it is one year old? What about five years old? Ok, since it's wearing a diaper, it's probably not! It's probably younger. Is it a girl? The diaper has pink elephants on it, so you think it was a girl? But, are you certain? Well, it's probably a good guess. What color hair does the baby have? You don't want to guess? Is there a clue that can tell us the color of her hair? Well, I guess our class is full of good detectives. You never saw the baby girl, but you think that she was our visitor.

How do you think our guesses about who our visitor was have anything to do with the dinosaurs we are studying about? Yes, we can make good guesses when we have clues or evidence that helps us guess. That is one of the things that we will learn about today - the evidence that we use to help us learn about dinosaurs!

Exploring the Idea

At the Science Center the students, working in pairs, dig for fossils. Bury the models for the bones (chicken) and fossils in the cornmeal or sand. The students role play that they are paleontologists looking for dinosaur bones. The students dig them up using the small brushes and one hand only to make sure they do not destroy the fossils. The teacher models how to dig for fossils. Some of the children model also.

Students also complete Activity - Fossil Matching, wearing the hats/caps.

At the Mathematics Center, the students continue sequencing and counting the dinosaurs, and complete Activity - Two Legs or Four Legs? While the students work at the center, they can count and crackers and/or cookies.

At the Art Center, the students make fossils by making imprints of hands, leaves, and other objects on playdough. Students complete Activity - Fossil Prints.

Getting the Idea

Ask: Who has seen a real dinosaur? Ask students to predict what the book Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones is about, then read aloud. Point to familiar words. None of us have seen dinosaurs, but we have seen some evidence that they existed. Some of the most important pieces of evidence scientists have to suggest that dinosaurs lived on earth millions of years ago are the fossils or remains of these giant lizards that have survived for millions of years. In our Science Center, we are going to discover how scientists who have discovered these fossils take them out of the earth and then study them. From those observations, the scientists make guesses about the dinosaurs.

Talk about a paleontologist as you show the word tag. The teacher shows the chart, Fossil Hunting, with its columns: Where to Look for Fossils; Type of Fossil; Tools to Use; Things to Use for Records. Ask for students' suggestions to put under each column. Record children's comments/ responses on a large piece of paper or a chart to be used later.

What evidence do the paleontologists look for when they hunt for fossils? Are bones the only thing they want to find? What other things are important? (Leaves, to tell us what kinds of plants existed at the time; sea shells, to tell us if that part of the land had been under water; humans' remains such as pottery or human bones to tell us if people lived on earth at that time.) Human bones that are as old as dinosaur bones have never been found, so scientists believe that no human beings lived on earth at the same time that the dinosaurs lived on earth.

The fossils that have been found appear to be of three kinds: actual bones or teeth of animals, prints (impressions) such as footprints or spaces or casts left in stone after the object has decayed away. Which kind of fossils did you make? When you role played that you were paleontologists, what kinds of fossils did you find?

Organizing the Idea

At the Listening Center, the children "read" Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones by listening to a tape.

At the Writing Center, the children complete Activity - Fossil Hunting, including the chart from that activity; they trace and write the word "paleontologist" on a chalkboard.

Applying the Idea

Working in groups, one student group challenges another to guess about an event from the evidence the group supplies. Students may draw clues, or they may act them out as they would in Charades.

Closure and Assessment

Reconvene the class, using the same role playing activities as in Lesson 1.

Oral Interviews

  1. What is a paleontologist? What do they do? Do they make guesses about the past? What things do they do to make certain that their guesses are as accurate as possible?
  2. What are some other words we use to talk about dinosaurs? Use word tags to remind students.
  3. What did we learn about dinosaurs today?
  4. Who can count from one to five? Show me three fingers. Show me two. Show me one. Show zero fingers.
  5. What other things have been found as fossils besides the actual dinosaur bones? (Imprints of leaves, and casts of footprints left on earth that have hardened over time.)
  6. What else would you like to know about dinosaurs?

List of Activities for this Lesson

  1. Two Legs or Four Legs
  2. Fossil Prints
  3. Fossil Hunting Lesson
  4. Fossil Matching

Copyright ©2021 American Institutes for Research (AIR)
About Us | Contact AIR | Terms of Use

Try our new, free, resource called Mosaic

Mosaic is a K-5 supplemental instructional program that provides engaging and rigorous lessons and resources that integrate math, science, and technology while supporting English learners and academic language skills.

Visit the Mosaic web site