Initiatory Activities

(1) Museum Name

  • Discuss creating a dinosaur museum in the classroom.
  • Have students democratically decide on a name for it (brainstorm and vote).
  • This is to stimulate interest in the unit of study and create classroom unity.

(2) KWL (what students think they Know, what students Want to know, and what students Learned) Chart

  • Students will contribute any prior knowledge that they have about dinosaurs.
  • Students will ask any questions they would want answered about dinosaurs throughout the unit.
  • Students will contribute newly found knowledge about dinosaurs once the unit is complete.
  • Write information on large cutouts of dinosaurs for students to read during unit.

(3) Book

  • Read The Magic School Bus In the Time of the Dinosaurs to the students.
  • The students will use this book and its information for various projects throughout the unit.


(4) Ms. Frizzle

  • Students will decorate a Ms Frizzle from The Magic School Bus in the theme of dinosaurs.
  • Hang these up around the room to compliment The Magic School Bus theme and activities.


(5) Pteranodon Mobile

  • Students will decorate and cut out a pteranodon that will be put together and hung from the ceiling.
  • This will create a prehistoric atmosphere in the classroom for the students.


(6) Trading Cards

  • Students will color and cut out cards with pictures and information of different types of dinosaurs.
  • Students will color and put together a special card holder that will store their trading cards, so students can keep the information close at hand.
  • Copycat Magazine, Nov/Dec 1993.

(7) Discovery Center

  • Set up a discovery center so that students can bring in objects and information pertaining to dinosaurs.
  • This area should be available so that students can use magnifying glasses to inspect objects to find details to be shared with the rest of the class.

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(1) Reporters’ Notebook

  • Students will partner read the book The Magic School Bus In the Time of the Dinosaurs and take informational notes in a reporters’ notebook.
  • Information to be written in the notebook includes characteristics of each time period of the Mesozoic Era, fossils, vocabulary words, and other general dinosaur information.


(2) Step Books

  • Students will use the information they recorded in their reporters’ notebook to make a step book on how the dinosaurs became fossils.
  • Each step will be written and illustrated and the last page can show the five types of fossils.


(3) Time Line Posters

  • Separate the students into 3 groups and have each group create a poster on a period of the Mesozoic Era.
  • Have each student use the information from their reporters’ notebook to give one fact and write it on the poster.
  • Posters can be hung in order to give a visual representation of the time line of the dinosaurs.


(4) Film Production

  • Each student will be responsible for writing a complete sentence or sentences about a pre-chosen topic and design a picture that represents the sentence.
  • Sentences will be typed on a computer and attached to the picture.
  • The sentences will follow a logical order and made into a movie that will describe the time of the dinosaurs.


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(1) Name-A-Saurus

  • A bulletin board will describe each step of this writing project for the students to complete before the opening of the museum.
  • First, the students will make their name into a dinosaur name by using prefixes and/or suffixes provided (meaning of the prefixes and suffixes should be available).
  • Next, the students will determine the meaning of their new dinosaur name and write a poem about it (a sample poem should be provided).
  • Then, the students must have their poem edited by the teacher before writing the final draft.
  • The final draft is to be written on a special sheet that will be folded and cracked egg shape will be placed as its cover.
  • On the cover, the top part of the cracked egg the students will write their dinosaur name and the bottom part they will draw a picture of their dinosaur.
  • All completed eggs can be hung in a nest on another bulletin board.


(2) Shape-O-Saurus

  • A bulletin board will give the directions for this mathematics project for the students to complete before the opening of the museum.
  • Students will use geometric shapes and paste them on construction paper to create a dinosaur.
  • Each of the geometric shapes will have a number value (provided by the teacher) so that the students can find the value of their dinosaur.
  • Finished projects can be displayed on the bulletin board.


(3) USA Fossil Find

  • A bulletin board will give the directions for this social studies activity for the students to complete before the opening of the museum.
  • On the bulletin board there should be a map of the United States and a chart labeling dinosaurs and the states that their fossils were found.
  • Students may work in pairs to use the chart and find the states where certain dinosaurs were found.


  • Arithmetic Teacher, September 1990.

(4) Archeological Dig

  • A sand table will be provided for this hands-on science activity for the students to complete before the opening of the museum.
  • Students will use shovels and paint brushes to dig up the 5 different types of fossils (that they made).
  • Students should dig up the fossils the way they learned in the chocolate chip cookie lesson.

(5) Listening Center

  • Books on tape will be provided for this reading activity for the students to complete before the opening of the museum.
  • Students will listen to a tape, follow along in the book, and answer questions on a worksheet describing the content of the story and giving it a recommendation.


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Take Home Project

(1) Informational Cubes

  • Parents will be instructed that there will be a take home project involving the student to obtain specific information on their assigned dinosaur (assigned dinosaur will also be used for “dino”-ramas and museum artwork).
  • Each square of the cube will be filled with specific information (dinosaur name and picture; dinosaur length, weight, and height; picture of dinosaur’s diet; period dinosaur lived in; where its fossils were found; and any fun fact about the dinosaur).
  • Students can find the information on their trading cards or any book from the classroom or library.

(2) “Dino-Ramas”

  • Parents will be instructed that there will be a take home project involving the student to create a 3-D scene on their assigned dinosaur (assigned dinosaur will also be used for informational cubes).
  • Specific information to be included in the “dino”-rama are climate and plant life of that dinosaur’s time period.
  • Students can find the information in their reporters’ notebook.

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(1) Art Gallery

  • Involve the art teacher to help enhance the quality of the museum.
  • Create an art gallery for the museum by having the students paint a picture and a scene around the dinosaur that they were assigned for the take home projects.

(2) Dinosaur

  • If you are brave (or as some called me – insane) build a dinosaur for your class using furring strips of wood and screws (they will hold it together better than nails).
  • After building the frame out of the furring strips, crumple papers and tape them around the frame to create the body shape.
  • Have students paper mache and paint the dinosaur (it will probably take one day for each activity).
  • You could also have the students paper mache and paint a nest (crumpled papers taped down in an oval shape on foam board) and eggs (blown up balloons) for the dinosaur.

(3) Job Training

  • Each student will have to fill out a job application that asks for the top three jobs they would like to be employed at the museum and a reason why they should be hired to do them.
  • Job opportunities include Name-A-Saurus (help students make a dinosaur name, poem and egg), Shape-O-Saurus (help students create a dinosaur shape and find the value – for older students), USA Fossil Find/Dinosaur Stories (help older students read the chart and locate states on the map, read dinosaur stories to younger students), Filmstrip (host/hostess welcome the classes into the museum and show the film and read the sentences to the audience), Archeological Dig (tell students information about how a paleontologist digs up fossils), and Fossil Making (help students make fossils by explaining the five different types of fossils).
  • Students must train for the position they have been assigned, practicing how to explain the directions or read the stories.
  • Students should be reminded that they must perform at their jobs with the responsibility and effort as if it were a real job (tell them about the paychecks they will earn at the end – it is usually a good incentive).
  • After the closing of the museum, students will receive a paycheck worth whatever the teacher decides (I gave them a free coupon for an ice cream cone at a local ice cream store and dinosaur stickers).

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