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
- DINOSAUR SHAPES OF DIFFERENT KINDS AND SIZES FOR THE Mathematics Center
- 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
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
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.
At the Art Center the students complete three activities.
- 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
- Activity - Thumbprint Dinosaurs
- 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.
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
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.
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
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?
Modified by Maria E. Torres
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.
- What interesting animal did we read about today?
- 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.)
- How large (how small) were dinosaurs?
- How long ago did they live?
- 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
- Appendix A - Dinosaur
- Thumbprint Dinosaurs