A Dinosaurs Themed Family School Unit Study for Morning Baskets and More
This Dinosaurs and Dragons Too unit study is based upon my Young Earth worldview. All activities and materials work equally well for an Old Earth (evolutionary) worldview except for the book Dinosaurs by Design by Duane T.Gish. Please see the Creation worldview notations if you wish to omit the references to evolution. These intermediate lesson plans are generally for upper elementary students. To add in younger and older students, see the Primary and Secondary “Dinosaurs, and Dragons too” posts.
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Language Arts and Literature
Read Aloud Literature
Eragon by Christopher Paolini is the first book of four in the Inheritance Cycle series. This book is the story of a farm boy, Eragon, who raises a dragon named Saphira. Together they combat the evil King Galbatorix and his dark soldiers, the Ra’zac. This series has been compared to The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter series because of its theme of good versus evil set within a fantasy world of dragons and elves. Written by a homeschooler, this set is one that my three oldest kids have loved (and they each have their own copy of the series!).
Jonathan Park, The Adventure Begins (Series #1): The Secret of the Hidden Cave audio adventure weaves in science information about dinosaurs and fossils in an entertaining and suspenseful drama. Your kids will want to continue the series! You can also get unlimited streaming for a small monthly fee directly from the JonathanPark website.
Living Books with Dragons
A lesser-known classic to try is Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon. (Grahame also wrote The Wind in the Willows.) In this story, a polite dragon, a boy, and St. George come up with a clever plan to save the dragon when the people of the village want St. George to slay the dragon. There’s also an audiobook version on Audible.
Although this next series may not meet strict “living book” standards, it still has literary value and one of my daughters (who is now in college) loved it so much that she insisted I include it! LOL Dragon’s Breath (Tales of the Frog Princess series) by E. D. Baker is the second of nine books in the series. If you wish to start at the beginning of the series, the dragon doesn’t enter the story until the second book.
This week, the younger kids are reading Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems which is a hilarious take on the traditional Goldilocks tale. In this witty version, Goldilocks finds herself in the middle of the wrong house that belongs to dinosaurs, not bears. After reading the book with younger siblings, have your students use the Venn diagram from the Free Resource Library to compare and contrast the dinosaur version of the story with the traditional tale. Or, if your student would like, they could make up their own version of Goldilocks to compare and contrast with the original.
Many cultures all around the world have folktales that reference a global, catastrophic flood. This flood folktale is based upon a Jewish folktale that is quite a bit different from the Biblical version. In this podcast from the Folktale Project, a giant named Og barters with Noah: The Giant of the Flood. Also, read the sections “The Great Flood” and “Flood Legends” in Dinosaurs by Design by Duane T.Gish.
Research: We used Dinosaurs by Design by Duane T. Gish to research dinosaurs. If you can’t find this Creation worldview book, substitute a secular dinosaur encyclopedia from your local library and omit the time periods assigned to the dinosaurs (i.e. Jurassic, Cretaceous, etc). This printable report form in the Free Resource Library is simple, yet thorough enough for an upper elementary research project. Make one copy for each dinosaur that your student will report upon.
Creative: Have your child imagine what it would be like to discover a dinosaur fossil. Use this accompanying worksheet from the Free Resource Library to help your child create the details as a pre-writing task. Then, let them put the details into sentences and write out their story in paragraph form.
After completing the creative writing worksheet above, discuss how lists of nouns and adjectives need commas to separate them. If the adjectives are all described the same noun, they need commas between them. Have your
Spelling and Vocabulary
Use the Intermediate Dinosaur Vocabulary flashcards from the Free Resource Library for spelling words this week. Have students write out a short definition of each word on the back of each vocabulary card.
Read “How Long Ago did Dinosaurs Live?”, “Dinosaur Family Life”, “What Happened to the Dinosaurs?”, “Ice Age”, and “Mysterious Creatures” in Dinosaurs by Design by Duane T. Gish.
There is evidence to suggest that many previously labeled carnivorous dinosaurs also ate a plant-based diet. The existence of gastroliths (small, polished rocks) in the rib cage area of many dinosaurs indicates that they may have had a gizzard to aid in their digestion. Other animals, such as chickens and crocodiles, also have a gizzard. Research and learn how gizzards work with this short video.
Read “How Fossils are Formed”, “Digging up Dinosaur Fossils”, Restoring Dinosaur Fossils”, and “Early Fossil Discoveries” in Dinosaurs by Design by Gish. Talk with your child about how fossils are studied and what problems those machines have. Read the AnswersInGenesis website for more (parent) information about carbon dating. Then, just for fun (or to put in a younger sibling’s sensory bin), make some salt dough fossils using the instructions from Simple Everyday Mom.
Buddy Davis is an explorer as well as a dinosaur sculptor. Watch this episode of Amazing Adventures: I Dig Dinosaurs. Learn what geologists, paleontologists, and paleo-artists study; what floaters are; the difference between fossils and trace fossils; and how comparative science is used to study the fossils.
Fine and Practical Arts
Learn about the true story of the Lascaux cave painting discovery in southern France. Use one of these books to learn about the story behind the discovery: The First Drawing by Mordicai Gerstein, or The Secret Cave: Discovering Lascaux by Emily Arnold McCully. Take a look at the pictures from the cave provided by the Bradshaw Foundation.
Bake some fossil sugar cookies. Use regular sugar cookie dough and press clean dinosaur toys into the dough to make “fossils” before baking.
Compsognathus is believed to be the smallest dinosaur at 3 feet long. It was only slightly bigger than a chicken and probably weighed around 6 pounds. The largest complete dinosaur is Brachiosaurus at 69 feet long and 36 feet tall. Using sidewalk chalk, measure and draw out the sizes of the smallest and largest dinosaurs on your driveway or sidewalk.
The True Story of Noah’s Ark by Tom Dooley and Bill Looney retells the Biblical account of the Flood and depicts what life inside the Ark may have been like. Also, read the section “Are There Dinosaurs in the Bible?” of Dinosaurs by Design by Gish.
Sensory and Motor Skills
Remember the old Catch the Rings toys from the 70s and 80s where you had to get the rings onto the post by pumping air into the water? Make your own dinosaur version with half of an Easter egg and a plastic dinosaur. Get the instructions from 730SageStreet.
This volcano blow art project from OurLittleAcorns will help you incorporate some heavy sensory work into your day.
Draw some dinosaurs in different places on your driveway. Then assign points to each based upon how far away they are. Let your kids have a competition to see who can toss a ball to hit the most dinosaurs and get the most points.
Play a dinosaur version of Simon Says. Make up dinosaur commands like “walk like a stegosaurus” or “stomp like a T-Rex.”
Watch this KidsAnswersInGenesis video for a brief overview of dinosaurs in the Bible and this video about the radiometric dating of fossils. Younger siblings are reading Boy, Were We Wrong About the Dinosaurs by Kathleen V. Kudlinski this week and upper elementary students can use it as a starting point for discussion. This book looks at the history of studying dinosaur fossils and the incorrect conclusions that have been made over time. Creation worldview note: mentions that birds evolved from dinosaurs over millions of years on one page and on another page states that an asteroid MAY have caused the dinosaurs to die.
Take a field trip to a natural history museum to see dinosaur fossils. Use this site to find the museum closest to you. Don’t forget to also check your state parks, as those often have small museums with fossils.
Be sure to follow my Pinterest board Dinosaurs and Dragons for more great morning basket ideas for your Dinosaurs unit study!
And most importantly, pin this post so you can refer back to it during your Dinosaurs study.