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Fossils/Dinosaur Unit

Compiled By: luv2teach77

A collection of ideas/activities to use when teaching a unit about fossils/dinosaurs.

Dino- unit
Posted by: Sarah

I love to use butcher paper, trace my kids and let them make a "child-o-saurus" by decorating their tracing. Also, I use tons of different kinds of noodle to make skeletons, and we make a "shape-o-saurus" with differt geometric shapes. If you're feeling brave make a chipping block for the kids to use like archeologists. Fill a trash can with plaster of paris and add plastic dinos, easter eggs, dog bones, etc... and when it's dry, give them goggles, paint brushes, and tooth picks or something of the sort to chip away and find fossils. (Lab coats add a nice touch) You can do the same thing on a smaller scale with Ice Cubes or small blocks of ice.
we also do a dino print project, I draw a huge dinosaur foot print on butcher paper and then we paint our feet and walk around inside the foot print to see how many human feet it would take to equal a dino print.

Dino 'baseball card'
Posted by: LurkerTammy

I had students do a dinosaur report, complete with 3D project (report done in school, project done at home).

I went back and forth about what to do with their final copy so I created a 'dinosaur baseball card' template. I printed a final draft for each student (changing the dinosaur name on the template).

Students transferred information from their rough draft onto their card.

Then I photocopied each students' dinosaur card and am putting them into books that each student will take home.

The kids love it, and are very excited about getting their own copy of the book. I'll attach the files I used here.

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Rough Draft
Posted by: LurkerTammy

Here's the rough draft. I send it home but we try to do the majority of the research in class. I print a copy of the Enchanted Learning ( information page to get them going.

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dino days
Posted by: dino days

We are in the middle of our dino unit and the kids love it! As junior paleontologists, they have created skeletons of dinos using toothpicks and popsicle sticks glued onto a construction paper dino template, dug for fossils (chips) with picks (toothpicks)in chocolate chip cookies, pressed plastic dinosaur footprints and shells into superdough to create fossil necklaces, created dinosaur dioramas in shoe boxes with Model Magic dinosaurs, written stories about what it would be like to have a dinosaur as a pet and what they think may have happened to the dinosaurs...let me know if you need more ideas or literature titles, I wrote a thematic unit on this last summer and have tons more ideas!

Dino activities
Posted by: LJ

We do a month long unit on dinos each year in second grade. We research the different periods and the dinos from the periods.... then compare and contrast carnivores, herbivores and omnivores with a venn diagram.... a project the kids love is to make a diarahma (don't know the spelling ) But if you type in "dinosaurs" you will come up with lots of sites on dinos--- there are sites with printable dinos that the kids can color and cut out and there are also printable background scenes for the different periods as well. The kids can also use modeling clay to put in their (shoebox). Our art teacher gets involved as well and they make a clay project that they paint and fire in the kiln for their diahrama (I think is the spelling). We do much much more, but the "shoebox" idea is fairly easy and done independently. If you wish to have more info please feel free to E me.

fossil prints
Posted by: phyllis

Hi I found this somewhere on the web but don't have the URL so I can't send you there but here is an idea
What is a fossil?
Can I make a fossil print?

what you need (per person)
"stone" dough mix

1/2 cup of salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup of brewed coffee cold
1 cup of used coffee grounds
measuring cups
mixing bowl
mixing spoons

Fossils to imprint
twigs, leaves, dead, hard-shelled bugs, seashells, chicken bones, plastic dinosaur models for skin textures or footprints.

What you do
1. Measure salt, flour, coffee, and grounds; add each to bowl and stir together until well mixed.

2. Turn this dough out onto a large sheet of waxed paper and knead it until smooth.

3. Break off a piece large enough for the imprint you wnat to make, roll it into a ball, and use the heel of your hand to flatten it out.

4. Press the object you wish to make a fossil imprint of firmly into the dough. You can use more than one object if you like. Carefully remove the objects to leave the prints behind. Let your fake stone dry overnight and you have an imitation fossil.

What is Happening
What you are doing is very much like the way real ossil prints were created. A long time ago, plants, bugs, ora animasl left impressions in soft mud, which dried out and eventually became rock.

Much of what we know about ancient, extinct plants and animals comes from such prints. for example, that is how we know what the texture of dinosaur skin was, and how we are still tracking down the evolution of birds- since neither skin nor feathers are likely to survive as actual fossils, the way bones do.

this is the exact copy that I got from the coalition home page....but like I said I have no URL

I also just bought the CD program "I Can Be a Dinosaur Finder" from Kids click software @ for only $14.95 plus shipping. Their phone is 888-918-9447. It looks great and has a lot to do with digging up fossils and how a paleontologist does it. I'm excited to try it in my classroom this fall.

Dinosaur PE
Posted by: Robin

I have taught Dinosaurs for the last seven years. One of the most loved games that we play at PE by my 1st & 2nd graders is "Herbivore, Herbivore, Carnivore" (AKA Duck, Duck, Goose). First, I teach them about plant eaters and meat eaters. For first grade-- one of our standards is being able to identify what animals eat based on the shape of their teeth--so this works well with Dinosaurs. Sharp pointy teeth:meat eaters;Flat teeth:plant eaters; both kinds of teeth:plant eater & meat eater (like us!).

Dinosaur unit
Posted by: Kellie

Rani, I am a first grade teacher and I have a couple of activites that my students LOVE to do during our study of dinosaurs. The first activity is a writing activity. I give each student a plastic Easter egg with a plastic dinosaur inside. Once they open the egg and they discover the dinosaur, they are to write a story about it. I give them the story starter of One day I found a dinosaur... They have to tell me where they found their dinosaur, what color it was, what it looked like, what they decided to do with their dinosaur, what they named their dinosaur, etc. The students are always eager to write with the fun manipulatives! The second activity is making dinosaur fossils. I use coffee grounds and flour to make a "batter" or mix. The students each get a small portion which the roll into a ball and flatten out. The mix should be almost of a playdough consistency. Once they flatten the dough out, they choose a plastic dinosaur to press into the dough. It works best if they lay the dinosaur on its side so you get the whole outline of the dinosaur. Remove the dinosaur and let the fossils dry for a couple of days. I have the actual recipe for this at school. If you are interested, I would be glad to email it to you.

Posted by: Kelli

Hey Jen, I did this for the first time last year and it was EASY!!! Use milk cartons from lunch, plaster of paris, seashells (?) and modeling clay. Wash out and let the carton dry overnight; put the clay in the bottom and shape it into the bottom of the carton (1/2 inch or so); press the shell down into the clay with the textured side of the shell, be sure to remove the shell; mix the plaster (I think 1 part plaster to 2 parts water?? the directions are on the carton!); and pour to cover the shell indention in the clay (about 1 inch or so); let try for several days and peel away the milk carton and clay. You can also use your new "fossil" to make another different kind of fossil but I forget how!! The kids LOVED this activity!I let the students keep the shell. Good Luck!

dinosaur sizes
Posted by: MA

Hi! I teach second grade and wehn we study dinosaurs we look up the dinosaur lengths and then go out to our parking lot and measure them out with a measuring tape and colored chalk. This gives the kids an idea about their size. They are always impressed! Then they write their dino's name and draw a picture of it along its length with the sidewalk chalk!

Posted by: ma-bethany

i would also do a science lesson. i do this lesson every year, and it's always a huge hit with my kids (no matter the age!)

it's basically a lesson on dinosaur fossils.

1. introduce vocabulary they might hear - paleontologist, fossils, excavation etc. (you can find more words when you preview the following story for yourself).

2. read Magic School Bus: In the time of Dinosaurs ( I think that's it). read it aloud, but i always stop where they get to the fossil sight and are doing the excavation. it's about midway thru. i don't get into the dinosaur bones or whatever it is the rest of the book is about.

3. students participate in their own excavation. give each kid a chocolate chip cookie and a couple of toothpicks. tell them that hte cookie is the fossil site, and they need to excavate the chocolate chips from the "rock." they aren't allowed to turn and move hte cookie, because in the field you can't turn the rocks!

4. a big part of science is observing. so have the kids start off by observing their "site" and have them draw what they see. then give them about 3 minutes to start digging. stop them a few minutes later, and have them go back and record their new observations. you can do this a few times. you could create some sort of observation sheet for it. i'd send mine to you, but we're not in school this week.

5. at the end, discuss how this could be related to a real dinosaur dig.

** i always tell the kids that they are not allowed to eat the cookie. it's a science project, and we never eat science materials. they don't like the idea, but then at the end i always let them eat the cookie :)


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Stone Dough
Posted by: L.P.

Here it is:

Stone Dough
1/2 cup of salt
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of brewed coffee (cold)
1 cup of used coffee grounds

Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Turn out onto wax paper and knead until smooth. If dough is too sticky, fold in a little more flour. A drier dough works best. I keep dough in the refrigerator until ready to use. To keep the objects you impress from sticking, dip them in flour before pressing into the dough. Let "fossils" air dry for several days. I turned mine so they could dry faster. The dough and fossils smell great! And they look so realistic.

dinosaur 5 feet
Posted by: Kathy

The easiest way I found to make a dinosaur was to use a very large bullentin board or wall. Students brought in tubes from empty toilet or paper towel rolls. We glued the tubes on a painted background and created a skeleton of a dinosuar (students voted). I made the real life connection to the dinosaur wall at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah. Students loved working on the project and trying to name different types of bones. Parents enjoyed the finished art work. The one nice thing about it,you do not have to worry about it falling down or someone knocking it over. It's very inexpensive.

dinosaur activities
Posted by: Julianne

Some things I've done with kindergarten or first:

Giant paper stuffed dinosaurs - make a pattern (or kids can make their own). Cut it out twice from bulletin board paper or other very large art paper. Staple around the edges of the dinosaur leaving a stuffing space, and color both sides. Now stuff the thing with crushed up newspaper or other waste paper. Finish stapling and you have a 3D giant dinosaur. Just so you know - brontosaurus doesn't work so well because it's awfully hard to stuff that long, skinny neck!

Dinosaur footprints - using homemade playdough have students press their handprint into the dough. Now fill the impression with plaster of paris. Wait until it is completely hardened, then remove the playdough. It sometimes sticks, but you can gently wash the print if you wait until the plaster is thoroughly set (overnight).

Jurassic Trees - Take several individual sheets of newspaper. Begin rolling at one edge of one sheet. As you get to the opposite edge of that sheet place another sheet on top of it and continue rolling. Roll about 5 sheets together this way. Tape the last sheet so you now have a long, thin tube of newspaper. Next cut down the tube by placing your scissors so one blade is inside the tube and one blade is outside. Cut down the tube about 8 inches or so. Make four or five cuts. When you are done it should look like a straw that "exploded" on one end. Now get hold of one of the inner fronds and start pulling. As you pull your jurassic tree will begin to grow. You should be able to pull the fronds out to make each tree over 6 feet tall. If you want the trees to be green you can paint the newspaper with poster paint ahead of time and let it dry, or use bulletin board paper.

Dino activities
Posted by: Bertie

The Discovery Center ..... Using a page I found in a Crayola Kids magazine, (but it wouldn't be hard to make up your own) I made outlines of several different dino bodies, tails, heads and legs. We ran them off in different bright colors and had spikes, ridges, crests etc that the kids could add. They assembled their "newly discovered" dino on a mountainous, swampy, jungle or rocky background and then together we use a dictionary of greek/latin terms I found in a dino fact book for inventing a new name. I print the new name for them and the translation.

We also do a research center in small groups with the librarian, where they record facts like a paleontologist ... size, food, habitat, description, interesting facts, and they get to illustrate their report by photocopying an illustration from their research book.

For the math center (first grade) we used dinosaur fruit snacks as measuring tools, so they measured each item on their worksheet (pencil, felt pen, reader, paper cup, shoe, friends hand) using first the dino snacks (wash hands before starting activity) then a ruler. When finished they get to eat the snacks.

For the writing center, they write a dino story in a 5 page booklet, which was pre-cut into a dino shape with a cover made with the wonderful dino-skin paper available at the teachers store. (made by Royer I think)

For the final center we put all our dinosaur puzzles, rub ons, models and tracers, together and called it the paleontology center, because they were putting dinos together.

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