Monday, July 4, 2011

Children's Learning - Dinosaurs

Last week I had a letter from Aden's mum, asking for suggested books for her young dinosaur fan. I had some great suggestions in comments that I really appreciate, and I'm sure Aden's mum did too. Today, I have some online resources and Book Chook activity suggestions that might interest Aden and children like him.

Lots of kids go through an intense dinosaur stage. I found that children in my Year Two and Three classes quickly became obsessed and acquired a vast knowledge of different dinosaur species. I loved to see them poring over vast tomes and commenting knowledgeably about habitat, enemies and prey. Could they read the tomes? Very often not. Did it matter? I don't believe so. They had so much pleasure, and managed a lot of learning anyway.

The same can be true of online resources. Some are pitched at an older reading age than your kids. Try reading these aloud to youngsters, or if that doesn't work, simply discuss the pictures with them and stick to reading captions.

If you want to look at dinosaur pictures, try copyright which has early artists' interpretations of dinosaurs. has galleries of dinosaur artists from around the world. Wikimedia has images of fossils and skeletons.

Now on to more online resources:

DLTK Dinosaur Activities Crafts, printable and even ideas for dinosaur-themed birthdays.

My new favourite dinosaur poem can be read at Gottabook.

Natural History Museum (UK) has quizzes, games and excellent 3D images of dinosaurs you can see from all angles. Find out what dinosaur you are by answering questions. (I'm pretty sure I'm a bookosaurus!)

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has lots of information and three interactives - probably best for ages 12 and onwards. Virtual tour is very slow to load but fascinating.

Dinosphere (The Children's Museum of Indianapolis) has educational games including Build-a-Dino and Match and Hatch. has a little flash game where kids can simply place dinosaur pics onto a background. You can get an idea from the image top left. ( has some ads.)

The Australian Museum has lots of excellent information about dinosaurs, including images.

DinoDictionary is a dinosaur dictionary (surprise!) - listen to the dinosaur talk to get its name pronounced and hear a brief description.

Dinosaurs for Kids is a dinosaur database, dinosaur flashcards, educational games like Dinosaur Match where kids must match dinosaurs with their shadows. (Some ads.)

PBSKids Dinosaur Train Field Guide is great. Scroll through a flip book of dinosaur illustrations and check the side tabs for extra info on food, size and other facts.

PBSKIds Dinosaur Train Games has simple games for dinosaur lovers that teach too. For example, in Hungry, Hungry Herbivore kids use the mouse to guide a triceratops through a landscape. The main game is All Aboard.

Scholastic have some dinosaur resources. You'll find information about dinosaurs and dinosaur experts, quizzes, and an interactive activity, Build-a-Dinosaur.

Book Chook activity suggestions:
  • There are so many cheap plastic dinosaur toys - why not hide some and go hunting for dinosaurs in the sand pit? Do your kids know the name of each toy? Look online and in books to see if it's a triceratops (say), then label it and hang your labels and dinosaurs from a chain.
  • Do some research in books or online to find the shapes of some dinosaur feet. Mould damp sand into the shape you choose. Pour plaster of paris into the moulded sand to create your own fossils. Younger kids can simply press whole small dinosaur toys into play dough, or use the feet of large plastic dinosaurs. Can they match the dinosaur to its footprints?
  • Play imaginatively with toy dinosaurs like this young dinosaur fan.
  • Sing some dinosaur songs.
  • Learn to draw dinosaur cartoons.
  • Watch and sing along with The Dinosaurs Song.
  • Visit your nearest Natural History Museum to examine skeletons and fossils of dinosaurs. If you live too far away, visit remotely via this video, Giant Robot Dinosaurs of Japan. And if you have a spare $350 000, consider purchasing this 20 Foot Animatronic Triceratops for your home - it responds to onlookers with lifelike reactions and fortissimo bellowing. Cute watchdog!
That's enough from Chookosaurus. Do you have any dinosaur - themed activities or resources to direct us to?
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