Dinosaurs for Kids
Dinosaurs for kids is full of fun activities to bring the past to life. Build dinosaur robots from trash, make a pterosaur fly and marble your own undiscovered egg. You'll find everything you need to make a giant lapbook, along with free story worksheets, coloring pages and ideas to help you keep a pet who was alive in prehistoric times! See how to make a fossil, go on field trips and learn how to build a dinosaur! You'll see more ideas for all sorts of fun kids crafts from dinosaurs to dragons and rainforest activities if you visit my homeschooling website.
Picture © Todd Marshall
You don't have to be a homeschool family to enjoy these fun dinosaur crafts. This is a family kids activity. If you have a weekend or evening to spare just get out a large piece of colored cardstock, gather the children together and get going.
Each of you contribute whatever your age or ability. Our kids are age 11 and 13 but it is equally suitable for anyone aged from about 7 right through High School and then on up to my husband's age (which is older than me!).
Dinosaurs for kids can take as long or as short as you like. We've been going for 3 months now and don't expect to reach the present day for some time yet - but you could just try it out for a day and see what comes out. I just fetched a piece of sponge from the bathroom and stuck it down; the inquisitive faces soon appeared!
Dinosaur Unit Study
FIRST pick your PERIOD
(Cambrian, Jurassic, Cretaceous or whatever catches the eye). Naturally enough, we started at the beginning 4,500 million years ago but you could start anywhere. The idea is to bend your dino activities or Unit Study to whatever talents each of you has; my kids love drawing dinosaurs so that was easy. My husband got caught up in watercolor dioramas which he could put at the top of each Period showing the plants and animals that had evolved. I like crafts, so I got the children to hunt out the colors of card, felt, holographic and tissue paper that I should use.
Next, take a:
- poster-sized sheet of colored card stock
You're going to use this to make a Lapbook or Unit Study on the Period you've chosen.
You'll be creating a giant Unit Study showing how Life on Earth has evolved. If your children are interested in dinosaurs that's a great start.
You will cover Art, Design, Natural History, Science, Geography, Geology - all subjects which feed into Unit Studies, lapbooks and classroom activities. But more importantly this is one of the most gripping stories ever - dinosaurs and the Story of Earth through time. Obviously any family who follows a strict Biblical belief would have to adapt the project to their own interpretation.
- If you want more ideas around the dinosaur theme, or more suggestions for projects you could do, I've set up a website full of ideas for kids crafts and activities. I'll be adding new suggestions all the time, so if you're interested please check it out.
HOW ABOUT MAKING DINOSAURS FROM JUNK?
Making dinosaur robots from junk has kept us absorbed since my son William got Stephen Munzer's book, and these kids models are all down to Stephen. The idea is simple - you just collect old house cleaner bottles, plastic jar lids, pop-up bottle-tops, air fresheners, coat hangers etc and turn trash into ready-made robot components. The essential crafts skills are melting, cutting, gluing and spraying with probably the most common task being heating a screwdriver in a candle flame to pierce holes in wheels and bottles so you can stick barbecue stick axles through them. The book is aimed at age 8+ and we can show you some of the techniques your kids will need for T-Wrecks and lots of other dinosaur robots.
Making Dinosaur Robots from Junk - By Stephen Munzer
This book has been inspirational.
We have got so much out of this book. The only problem you'll find is that it's getting out-of-date and much of the household 'junk' has changed design. There's always a 'new look' product to tempt us - which means that the shower gel bottles, air fresheners and coat hangers are now mostly slightly different.
Watch out here he is!
This was the first dinosaur robot we attempted. Can you spot what he's made from? This is the parts list:
- 8 plastic forks
- 1 plastic coat hanger
- 1 wedge-shaped air freshener
- 1 trigger-action spray bottle
- 2 plastic wall plugs
- 2 circular air fresheners
- 2 metal bolts or screws
- 1 plastic drinking straw
- 3 wooden barbecue skewers
All the instructions are in the book. Piercing holes in plastic bottles is dead easy and the barbecue sticks act as axles with the ingenious idea of using short lengths of plastic straw as spacers between the air freshener wheel and the body. Plastic forks are easy to attach as arms and your kids can snip off the fork heads to make rows of vicious teeth by warming the forks in a glass of warm water before you snip off the handles.
Terror-saw was another crafts success! A bit of plastic bin bag worked great as the leathery wings, which are attached with a girl's hair gripper. His head is a clothes-peg with one arm cut off. Here is the parts list so you can see he's not that hard to bring to life:
- 1 plastic clothes-peg
- 1 pop-up drink bottle cap
- 3 CDs
- 1 hair gripper
- 1 hollow plastic coat hanger
- 1 childsize plastic coat hanger
- 1 plastic carrier bag
- 2 film cannisters
More Dino-bots for Your Dinosaur Unit Study
There are instructions for five dinobots in the book, with Cyber-ceratops pictured here. They all work and are great to make but I have to put in a strong warning - watch out because air fresheners, shower gel bottles etc have all changed slightly since this book was published. You'll be OK on most things - plastic spoons and things like that haven't changed too much, but your kids will need to be slightly inventive on some things. We've ended up using generally larger and different shaped bottles for the body parts which does throw out some of the attachments.
It's not been too bad and the good news is that you can use some of the modern designs to your advantage. The transformation of junk into dinosaur is helped by the spray paint finish and the book has stickers you can apply which give the models a professional touch. William and Catherine are now at the stage where they are up to inventing their own Dino Robot models - as you can see in Catherine's page on recycled crafts.
Build A Dinosaur Velociraptor - Use paper mache clay and polyboard to make your own prehistoric friendClick thumbnail to view full-size
Watch Dinosaur Building In Action!
Full how to instructions in our Make A Dinosaur crafts page.
Dinosaurs On Pinterest - Share your Activities
Why not share your favorite Dinosaur activities on Pinterest?
Check out my board on kids activities at Dinosaurs for Kids.
Walking with Dinosaurs MOVIE
You have to include the Walking with Dinosaurs 3D Movie in your project!
It's fantastic for children to be able to see these amazing animals as though they were alive. It would be a great way to inspire them to enjoy all the ideas on here.
Dig up a Dinosaur
Uncovering your own dinosaur has to be a great way to start your crafts activities! Perfect for younger kids, this makes one of those ideal Elementary Science Activities which all the family can join in.
There are plenty of cheap Dig Up Dinosaur kits available; we enjoyed discovering a Velociraptor courtesy of the Smithsonian. Once you add goggles and a hammer your child will really feel the part!
DK: Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life - American Museum of Natural History
This was the present I bought for William and Catherine to celebrate all the work they did on Dinosaurs for Kids. Inside you'll see computer-generated sea scorpions as big as people and armor-plated herbivores.
It has great computer generated graphics which should tempt any artists, its easy to see when different dinosaurs lived and has lots of good family trees.
Science Resources: Real Life Objects
You could start your crafts activities by sticking down:
- Lichen (Pre-Cambrian).
- Sponge (Cambrian). Sadly I found we had some real sponge but the bathroom sort would do.
- Ginko leaf (Triassic). We used a laminated one.
- Feathers (Jurassic). We sellotaped down artificial ones because they had pretty colors!
- Coal (Carboniferous).
- Piece of Magnolia tree (Cretaceous).
- Chalk (Cretaceous).
You could also pop over to Kids Dinosaurs.com for pictures, coloring pages and activities to get you in the mood!
DK: Dinosaur Atlas
Really good for showing where prehistoric animals lived.
Lots of pictures of fighting dinosaurs and some good see-through dinosaur skeletons. Very nicely presented (age 9-12).
Resources: Pop-out Crafts
It's nice to have things that stick out! Your kids could try:
- Paper foldouts to show how a specific aspect of anatomy evolved over time (e.g. wings).
- Tabs: Catherine had great fun with the fish-type animal pictured above which you could pull out from the open jaws of an approaching larger predator. They certainly liked the danger aspect!
- Pipe cleaners: Sticking a bent-over pipe cleaner on the back of card is an easy way to make predators jump out.
Encyclopedia Prehistorica - By Robert Sabuda
This is unique.
I can't see many people being able to copy the skill shown here in the making of these fantastic POP-UP prehistoric creatures. Tyran roars out at you with a purple tongue, a frilled-headed archaeopteryx takes flight and two triceratops have a 3-D skirmish. But what a book and what a collection. We have all three. They're worth getting not because they'll help you much practically with your kids crafts but more because they feed the imagination.
Paint a Pebble Dinosaur
If you go down to the beach, you'll be surprised how many prehistoric creatures are hiding in the shape of a stone! Here's one Catherine made to add to her Dinosaurs for Kids project.
Acrylic paint works best and sometimes it's a good idea to paint a light background first so the colors show up. You can see more ideas on our rock painting kids crafts page.
Loads of exciting kids pictures to download - just use Google.
- National Geographic has a brilliant timeline, cover all the Periods and has useful facts:
- PBS has a lot of interactive activities around Darwin, survival and evolution. My two enjoyed watching the asteroid hit as part of the 'Why did dinosaurs die out?' debate and looking at the "All in the Family" guessing game on:
- There's a very good lens here on Squidoo which gives you child-friendly facts and information about dinosaurs. Have a look here: DINOSAUR A-Z GUIDE
- If you have older kids and want answers to questions like why they died out and whether you can believe the movies, this site at Berkeley has DINO FACTS
- Wikipedia is useful for looking up specific dinosaurs and prehistoric animals to find out when they lived and has information on the Periods too, though William and Catherine tended to find the writing a bit dry:
Drawing: Eotyrannus © Todd Marshall
Unit Study: Scrapbooking Ideas
Now's the time to get busy with those crafts skills! Those eagle-sized dragonflies were too tempting for me. I chose acetate for the wings and used gel pen to mark on the wing patterns. Catherine chose blue card for the body with holographic eyes.
If you want to know exactly where I got the idea from, it's based on pages 34-35 of BBC Books: The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life (see above).
If your kids love drawing, this is the place for them. Whatever the result, they can't go wrong! So long as it comes out looking vaguely big and colorful it'll look great as part of your crafts and activities. And this is the place for your drawings too! If you're being held back by that old chestnut telling you that you can't draw, just pretend yours is done by the kids! I'm sure they won't mind. It's also worth remembering that no-one really knows precisely what dinosaurs looked like so you can't go too far wrong. Maybe someone will discover in future years that the colors you've chosen are exactly right! If you do get out a pencil it's amazing how much more you see and once you start looking you'll find you can't stop.
A Dinosaur Egg
If you want some easy crafts activities, why not make an undiscovered egg? Marbling always looks great, is very quick to do and ideal for even the youngest child. I tend to use the pastel colors as they are a bit more subtle. Just add a few drops of different colored marbling inks to water and dip in your egg. We used a hen's egg (with yolk and white blown out) for its extra life-like quality, but you can buy plastic eggs which marble up very well.
A freshly laid dinosaur egg © homeschool-activities.com
DINOSAUR COLORING PAGE - With Free Writing Worksheets
If you go to my page on baby dinosaurs, you'll find a free coloring page drawn by Catherine. You' can also see a live video of a baby hatching!
That should be enough to get your imagination going, and Catherine has come to the rescue again by illustrating some free story worksheets for all ages. Think what it would be like to keep your own prehistoric pet, and write your own Guide to Dinosaurs. How would you train a prehistoric beast? What would you need to look after it? A pet T-Rex would certainly make your friends jealous!
Good for younger kids.
More Unit Study Drawings
Although my son William age 11 has drawn Edaphosaurus, a spectacular Permian herbivore, experience has shown that the images most likely to inspire my two with arts and crafts activities tend to be around the themes of killing, biting and fighting! Absolutely no reflection on William and Catherine, of course...Anyhow you should find plenty in the books recommended here to encourage your kids creative side.
DK: Dino Revealed - By Dougal Dixon
"Has great see-through pages and tells you a lot," William.
You could use acetate as a fold-out to show a baby Troodon hatching from its egg (see pages 8-9).
The Usborne Internet-linked Prehistoric World - By Jane Bingham
"Has nice illustrations and tells you a lot about different groups and how things evolved. I liked finding out about early humans," William.
Make a Dinosaur Lapbook
By now you should be getting the idea for lots of kids crafts and activities - but there's lots more to come. You can make a lapbook with your discoveries. Here are a few scrapbooking ideas which do not rely on you being quite so creative or imaginative:
- NEWSPAPER / MAGAZINE ARTICLES
Printed articles give your project a different look and there are plenty to choose from. Newspapers often cover the latest fossil finds. National Geographic has many good articles. I get my kids to choose whatever they are interested in; they picked out a fascinating article on the recent discovery of a penguin the size of a man.
- COLORING SHEETS / FACT SHEETS / PRINT-OUTS
Enchanted Learning has lots of coloring sheets you can download for free. It also has free print-outs, fact sheets and plenty of other teaching resources.
One of the joys of dinosaurs for kids activities is to using different crafts materials to create more interest.
If you look at the scene above you'll see the a crack in the Earth. I used shiny red foil to swallow up someone's tail to mark the Cretaceous extinction.
- Here's another scrapbooking crafts idea which comes in handy - tracing paper. It can give another 'feel' to animals - we used colored pencils on top for a rather transparent trilobite.
- Early plants look good cut out of felt.
Collect Dinosaur Stamps
Collecting prehistoric stamps can become addictive! It's yet another way of making your Unit Study appeal to your kids.
You can use the stamps to form part of a bigger lap booking project.
And of course you can find ink stamps too which will leave watermarks on all your favorite pictures!
You don't have to make your dino activities hard work! Here are some places your kids can have some fun:
- The Baryonyx mystery and Big Al
There are lots of games here. William's favorites are these two; you have to try life as a young Allosaurus and weigh up the evidence to uncover the truth about Baryonyx.
- Brain Teaser
- Dinosaur jokes. You have to click on the 'Table of Contents' in the Zoom Dino list and then go to 'J' in the index which takes you to the jokes.
Astrosaurs - By Steve Cole
This is definitely for fun!
I had to put the Astrosaurs series in. It's a bit way out but William and Catherine have loved this series. Dinosaurs flying in space ships powered by dung...it's got to be good. William has every one in the series and they play with the Astrosaur Collector cards inside the book. Definitely a kids thing!
We really enjoyed the series because it gave lots of up to date information and had fab graphics!
WHO'S UP FOR A REAL FOSSIL HUNT?
Make Your Own Fossil Activity
Helping your kids make their own fossil is easy and fun to do for kids crafts.
The essential ingredient is to have a few real ones yourself! Shark teeth, ammonites, trilobites - they all work beautifully. But you'll be pleased to know that you can use exactly the same method to take fossil prints of anything you like - including plastic dinosaurs!
You'll need a few simple ingredients:
- Your object - (you can get fossil molds on the internet if you're worried about damaging the one you have - see below)
- Modeling clay (plasticine)
- Plaster of paris (worth getting a large amount and storing in the loft for later!)
- Two paper cups
You can see the full method on my How To Make Your Own Fossil page.
Do try this simple activity yourself - it's great fun!
Finding Fossils for Your Dinosaur Unit Study
Now, I'm not saying you and your kids will necessarily dig up your own dinosaur; but what about going on a fossil hunt? There's nothing quite so amazing as splitting open a boring piece of rock and finding your own quartz-filled ammonite. Our dino activities really opened up our minds to the idea of just how ancient the Earth is and how many creatures have lived here before us. A local Geology book is a real help to find the right areas to look; and if there's nowhere near you you could always plan a fossil hunting holiday. My husband Rob and I went on a trip to the States shortly after we met and one of the highlights was visiting Dinosaur National Monument in California. Falling in love obviously isn't an essential part of fossil collecting but having children is a real help. In my opinion kids actually make much better fossil hunters than their parents; maybe it's something to do with being closer to the ground.
Amazingly, it turned out that it just so happens we live near one of the best sites for tracks left from the Triassic Period. The most perfect ones are in the local Museum but there are still some exposed on the tide-line. So we took some plaster of Paris down and made this cast. It's not great but you can just make out the three toes of a meat-eating dinosaur which walked on its hind legs. Catherine and William are going to paint the cast to make it more obvious but isn't it exciting to think that a prehistoric beast once walked down the beach near us? If you could find out if there are any dinosaur sites near you it would really bring your crafts and activities to life.
That's it! Have fun. As you can see, Dinosaurs For Kids is a whole family thing - I certainly got as much (if not more) from it than the children! They contributed loads but they also learned a lot just by watching. You can even involve your relatives and friends - we had to ask round until we found someone with a Magnolia tree in their garden. I'm hoping we've done enough to tempt you to follow in our footsteps.
And if you'd like more ideas about other projects to try, here is a great website full of homeschool ideas run by Julie. Without her encouragement, I would never have thought of sharing this with you.
Finally, thanks to William and Catherine for choosing the pictures and helping me.
The Future of Life on Earth
A Poem From My Dad
I thank the amoeba for
My stomach juice's wonderful flow
The fish for my backbone;
The frog for lungs;
And all animals together
For my strong skeleton;
Last, the tree-foot apes
And all simians
For my lobed brain
And instrumental thumbs.
And I report to them,
That we, their heirs,
May, with our bomb,
Destroy the fruit of millions of years,
Ourselves, as well, of course,
And, incidentally, all of them.
© Norman Iles
My Dad was the poet Norman Iles and I've chosen this one because it's one of my favorites. If you feel encouraged to do anything around this project then perhaps we'll have helped show our kids what makes this Planet such an amazing place to treasure.
George (age 6) has drawn this wonderful Gigantosaurus; isn't it great? He really does look huge George and the volcanoes in the background are really colorful. Thank you for giving it to me so I can show everyone else what a lovely drawing you've made.
More of Your Drawings
Here are some of Sandy's drawings.
And Another Drawing from Sandy
This one's even more sparkly! Well done Sandy.
It would be great to put your kids dinosaur drawings up here and any other crafts and activities you've done as a family. Take some photos, let me know and I'll upload them. You can see the pictures George, Sandy and Jaime drew just above. William and Catherine would love to see your drawings so please send them to me...
And by the way, you can LEAVE YOUR COMMENT HERE: