Dinosaur Project Ideas

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Dinosaurs can be one of the most exciting things for students to learn about! Make learning about them even more fascinating by offering students the opportunity to engage in projects that let them use a variety of learning styles.

Why Dinosaur Projects?

There are few children who cannot get excited when learning about dinosaurs. Dinosaurs captivate the imagination with their aggression, their intrigue, and their pure wildness. Moreover, they offer a fascinating window into a time so long ago. One way to help your students get especially interested in dinosaurs is by letting them do projects. Projects are often interdisciplinary in nature and access a variety of learning styles, strengths, and modalities; this means that instead of just reading about dinosaurs, students get to learn about them using all of their senses. The projects in this lesson can be modified to meet the needs, interests, and abilities of the students in your class.

Long, Long Ago Time Line

One of the things that makes a study of dinosaurs complicated is that many students struggle to understand just how long ago they walked the earth. Ask your students to make a timeline that represents the distance between dinosaurs' existence, including different periods in which dinosaurs roamed, and anything else they know from history. They can use paper, and you should encourage them to tape multiple pieces of paper together to represent the vastness of this time scale. Have your students do research that helps them illustrate a representative view of each time on the line they create. Students might be surprised when they see how long dinosaurs reigned before anything else in human history!

Dinosaur Experts

Break your students into small groups, and ask each group to study a particular dinosaur in detail. Students should learn as much as they can about the dinosaur they are working on. Some questions you can encourage them to answer include: When did this dinosaur live? What did they eat? What were some of their capabilities? Who were their predators? How did they move? Once students have done their research, they should create posters advertising their dinosaur. Each poster should be oriented toward proving that particular dinosaur is the most interesting or powerful. Then, have a gallery in which students share their posters. You can choose a team of students or outside audience members to judge the posters and select a winning dinosaur!

Model of a Dinosaur

This activity also involves working in small groups. Ask each group to work with clay to create a model of a particular dinosaur. The model should be realistic, showing different aspects of the dinosaur's anatomy, how the dinosaur stood, and what special features the dinosaur had. As students work on this model, they will think about the relationship between a dinosaur's structure and its behavior. For instance, they can think about why dinosaurs might have particular shapes to their body or particular defense mechanisms available. Give your students a chance to paint their models, and then have a museum day in which students share their work with one another.

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