Dinosaurs & Dragons Unit Study for Upper Elementary Learners

A Hands-on Dinosaurs & Dragons Family Style Unit Study for Morning Baskets and Family School.

This Dinosaurs and Dragons Unit Study combines Charlotte Mason style learning with full STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math) lessons and is based upon my Young Earth worldview. However, all activities and materials work equally well for an Old Earth (evolutionary) worldview except for the book Dinosaurs by Design by Duane T.Gish (and you can just swap out any dinosaur encyclopedia for this book).

Please see the Creation Worldview notations if you wish to omit the references to evolution.

These Upper Elementary lesson plans are generally for upper elementary students (3rd to 5th grades).

To add in younger and older students, see the Early Learners (Preschool to 2nd grade) and Middle to High School (6th grade & up) “Dinosaurs & Dragons” posts.

Some links in this post may be affiliate links. This means that if you click on them, I may make a tiny commission, at no extra cost to you.

Dinosaurs & Dragons 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 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 that is a terrific story is Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon. (Grahame also wrote the popular 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.

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    Literary Analysis

    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 Goldilocks & The 3 Dinosaurs 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.


    dinosaurs report homeschool
Dinosaurs & Dragons

    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 Dinosaur Research 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.

    If I were a dinosaur worksheet
dinosaurs and dragons

    Creative: Have your child imagine what it would be like to discover a dinosaur fossil. Use this accompanying If I Discovered Dinosaurs 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 all of the adjectives describe the same noun, they need commas between them. Have your student add commas where needed to their creative writing paper. For extra grammar practice, see if they can come up with an antonym (or opposite) for each adjective they used to describe their dinosaur.

    Spelling and Vocabulary

    dinosaur vocabulary

    Use the Upper Elementary 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.

    Don’t have time to download each individual worksheet?

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    Dinosaurs & Dragons STEAM


    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 Answers In Genesis 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.

    Also, take a look at the pictures from the cave provided by the Bradshaw Foundation.

    Finally, 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.

    Dinosaurs & Dragons Bible

    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.

    Dinosaurs & Dragons Sensory and Motor Skills

    ring toy

    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.”

    Dinosaurs & Dragons History

    Watch this Kids Answers In Genesis 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 your 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.

    Family Fun

    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.

    More Ideas

    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 one of these images so you can refer back to this post during your Dinosaurs & Dragons unit study.

    dinosaur and dragons unit study pin
    dinosaur dragons unit study

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