What is it about dinosaurs that children love?
I’ve wondered about that for years. Recently my mother (a primary teacher of 34 years) and I had a conversation about this. It’s the mystery of what happened to them, it’s the curiosity about what they looked like, it’s the idea that huge creatures roamed the earth before humans did. Dinosaurs are ferocious, yet safe to learn about because they are extinct today. Whatever the reason or reasons, children LOVE learning about dinosaurs. We study them in my second grade class, and my students can’t get enough of them. Here are a few tips to make your dinosaur unit fun.
- Make sure you cover different types of dinosaurs. There are so many dinosaurs, you certainly won’t be able to cover all of them. Just make sure that you give your students a variety.
- Allow students to come up with their own ideas. Remember, archaeologists discover new facts about prehistoric life constantly. Do not stifle future historians, scientists and paleontologists with their ideas today.
- Incorporate writing into your unit. I know, I always say this – but writing goes with everything. Once students begin thinking about dinosaurs they have so many wonderful questions and ideas. Have your students write down their ideas, and turn them into stories,
- Allow hands on creativity. My students love making our dinosaur pop up books, but there are so many wonderful hands on dinosaur activities out there. I have seen teachers reenact paleontology digs by using sand and “bones”. Students can construct their own dinosaurs using paper mache. Whatever method you choose, dinosaurs are definitely a unit of study that lends itself to hands on work.
- Field Trip – If you are fortunate enough to live near a science museum that covers dinosaurs definitely visit one. I am fortunate to teach near the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, IL. Each year my class visits and we get to see Sue (the most complete T-Rex ever recovered). My students love seeing her, and learning about her.
As you study your dinosaur unit keep the mystery there. Remind students that we are still learning more about dinosaurs everyday. Let them know that if they are really interested, they may be the future paleontologist to discover something truly amazing!