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 Bible section. Please see the Creation worldview notations if you wish to omit the references to evolution. These secondary lesson plans are generally for middle and high school students. To add in younger and older students, see the Primary and Intermediate “Dinosaurs, and Dragons too” posts.
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Language Arts and Literature
Read Aloud Literature
The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the guy that wrote about Sherlock) was first published in 1912 and is basically the original Jurassic Park. A reporter follows a bad-tempered paleontologist to the Amazon rainforest where they search for dinosaurs. It’s a mix of suspenseful mystery and science fiction that will capture your teen’s imagination. There are Kindle and Audible versions of this book available. Sidenote: I thought the first few pages were a bit odd, but they do help set the stage for Edward’s motivation to do something “brave”.
Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth was one of the first books of the science fiction genre. It gives us a glimpse into what paleontologists and geologists believed in the mid 19th century about prehistoric life and the Earth’s core (many of which have been disproved in the last 170 years!).
If you are looking for something a bit less of a challenge to read, try the Inheritance Cycle series that the younger kids are listening to this week. The first book of the series (written by a fellow homeschooler!) is Eragon by Christopher Paolini. Eragon is a farm boy who raises a dragon named Saphira. Together they combat the evil King Galbatorix and his dark soldiers, the Ra’zac. This series is one that my big kids love to read again and again.
Ray Bradbury is best known for writing Fahrenheit 451, but he also wrote several dinosaur stories and poems during his career. A Sound of Thunder explores what could happen if big game hunters were to travel back in time to the age of the dinosaurs. (Bradbury uses very descriptive language and your kids may either by enthralled or disgusted by the very “real” descriptions used to describe the killing of a large animal. However, it’s a great piece of literature for practicing the difference between metaphors and similes.)
Watch the story from Ray Bradbury Theatre here, taking note of the descriptive language that Bradbury uses to make the listener feel as though they are there with Eckels in the story. Use the accompanying Sound of Thunder Literary Analysis worksheet from the Free Resource Library. This worksheet will help your student study similes, metaphors, and personification. For help with the difference between metaphors and similes, read this helpful article from JustPublishingAdvice.
Many cultures all around the world have folktales that reference a global, catastrophic flood. Read the Sumerian account of the great flood, told in the 11th Tablet of The Epic of Gilgamesh. Then, read and discuss this article from Creation.com that compares the Gilgamesh epic to Genesis. If your student is interested in learning more about the different flood folktales and myths, here’s a huge list of Flood stories from around the world.
We often tend to overuse non-specific language when we’re talking, using words like “that” or “thing” or “this” which makes it difficult for your listener if they don’t know or can’t see to what you are referring. Using too many non-specific words when writing can really confuse the reader. For a fun way to practice using more specific language, play a game of dinosaur “Guess Who”.
First, print out 3 sets of the Guess Who dinosaur pictures from the Free Resource Library. Then, lay one set out in front of each player. Next, place something between the two players so that they can’t see each other’s dinosaur pictures (like a cereal box). Now, each player should draw one card from the remaining set of pictures. The goal is to guess which dinosaur picture your opponent has in her or his hand. Finally, taking turns, ask your opponent yes/no questions to eliminate possible dinosaurs. Using very specific adjectives and nouns will help you win! This would be a great activity for your bigger kids to play with their younger siblings!
If your family uses narration to work on grammar skills, use the Dinosaur Narration and Copywork handout from the Free Resource Library.
Using what you learned about the Gilgamesh flood myth, compare and contrast it to the Biblical Flood account. Use these sites to help you with your research: Institute for Creation Research and GotQuestions. Middle school students should write at least three full paragraphs. High school students should write a five-paragraph essay. Encourage your student to do a bit of pre-writing first. Have them use a Venn diagram to help them organize their thoughts.
Spelling and Vocabulary
Use the Secondary Dinosaur Vocabulary flashcards from the Free Resource Library for spelling words. Have students write out a short definition of each word on the back of each vocabulary card. Alternatively, if your student loves to draw, have them draw a picture to depict the meaning of each word.
Soft tissue was found inside of a Tyrannosaurus Rex femur bone in 2005 by Dr. Mary Schweitzer. Watch these videos to learn about the finding and its implications: Evolutionary worldview, Interview with Dr. Mary Schweitzer, and Creationism worldview
Read about Mary Anning, the “mother of paleontology” in this article from the United Kingdom’s Museum of Natural History. Then talk with your child about how fossils are studied and what problems those machines have. Read the AnswersInGenesis website and from the Institute for Creation Research for more information about carbon dating.
Most paleontologists are actually geology professors at large universities. Research other jobs that geological engineers have and what kinds of work they do.
The primary learners are seeing how many of their shoes will fit inside a triceratops footprint. Use math to estimate how many of your shoes it takes to fill the largest fossilized T-Rex track found to date. The largest Tyrannosaurus Rex footprints measured 1 meter by 46 cm. However, the largest dinosaur track ever found was in Australia and was left by a plant-eating sauropod, such as a brachiosaurus. It measures 5 ft., 9 in. long; read about it here.
Watch this video from the Creation Truth Foundation to answer all of your questions about dinosaurs and the Bible. Another fabulous resource is Dinosaurs and the Bible by Brian Thomas (Amazon also has it on Kindle).
History and Biography
Read King of the Dinosaur Hunters by Lowell Dingus. The king of collectors was John Bell Hatcher. Hatcher helped to discover and display the Carnegie Museum’s diplodocus and lived an Indiana Jones type of life. Creation worldview note: the author of this book believes in a bird-dinosaur connection. Birds evolving from dinosaurs is not even accepted by all secular paleontologists. This book is not written from a Creation worldview.
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.
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