Homeschooling Resources: Who
Doesn’t Love Dinosaurs?
BY REBECCA RUPP
Who doesn’t love DINOSAURS? Check out this for books and projects. (Bake a batch of 3-D dinosaur cookies and make a dinosaur out of chicken bones!)
Jane Yolen’s How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? (Blue Sky Press, 2000) is a rhyming picture-book account of how dinosaurs (and by implication, kids) go to bed. “Does a dinosaur slam his tail and pout?/Does he throw his teddy bear all about?/Does a dinosaur stomp his feet on the floor/And shout “I want to hear one book more”?/Does a dinosaur ROAR?” No. As it turns out, they’re much better behaved. Mark Teague’s witty illustrations feature ten different oversized dinosaurs. There are many good-behavior-promoting sequels, among them How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?, How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends?, and How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Room? For ages 2-7.
The How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? Reading and Discussion Guide from the Massachusetts Center for the Book has discussion questions, activities, and background information.
Elise Broach’s When Dinosaurs Came with Everything (Atheneum Books, 2010) is every little kid’s dream giveaway: as a little boy and his mother run their Friday errands, every store and office is handing out free dinosaurs. (At the doughnut shop: Buy a Dozen, Get a Dinosaur.) And these are real dinosaurs. The kid collects four before his mom calls it quits, and home they go for lunch. A giggle for ages 3-7.
In Ian Whybrow’s Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs (Puffin, 2012), Harry finds a cache of old plastic dinosaur toys in his grandmother’s attic, cleans them up, learns all their names, and soon carries them everywhere with him in a bucket. These are special dinosaurs: for Harry, they come to life. A problem arises when he loses his beloved dinosaurs on the train – but Harry knows just how to get them back. There are several sequels featuring Harry and his dinosaurs, as well as a TV show. For ages 4-8.
Teaching Ideas for Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs include multidisciplinary activities for Literature, Math, Science, Design Technology, Art, and Music.
In Mo Willems’s hysterical Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs (Balzer + Bray, 2012), the dinosaurs make the beds, arrange the chairs, set out three tempting bowls of chocolate pudding heated to various temperatures, and go for a walk. Says Mama Dinosaur, “I SURE HOPE NO INNOCENT LITTLE SUCCULENT CHILD HAPPENS BY OUR UNLOCKED HOME WHILE WE ARE…uhh…SOMEPLACE ELSE!” Luckily visiting Goldilocks wises up before she becomes a dinosaur bon-bon. For ages 5 and up.
In Oliver Butterworth’s The Enormous Egg (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 1993), young Nate Twitchell is flabbergasted when as oversized egg from the family chicken coop in Freedom, NH, hatches out an infant Triceratops (to be named Uncle Beazley). Soon scientists and politicians converge, and Nate is confronted with the problem of what’s best to do with his dinosaur. For ages 8-12.
Barbara Kerley’s The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins (Scholastic, 2001) – with wonderful illustrations by Brian Selznick – is the story of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, the Victorian artist who built the life-size dinosaur models that ornamented the grounds of London’s famous Crystal Palace. (He threw a dinner party for scientists inside his Iguanodon.) For ages 6 and up.
Jessie Hartland’s How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum (Blue Apple Books, 2011) is the 145-million-year-long story of how a Diplodocus fossil was formed, its bones discovered, uncovered, and transported to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Clever cartoon illustrations and a creative design make this book a gem. For ages 6-9.
By master paper engineer Robert Sabuda, Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs (Candlewick, 2005) pairs basic information with 35 spectacular pop-up dinosaurs. For ages 4 and up.
See the Candlewick Press website to download a teacher’s guide and an activity kit (make a T. rex pop-up card) to accompany the book.
The Footprints of Dinosaurs
By Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld, Dinosaur Tracks (HarperCollins, 2007) in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series explains how fossil footprints form and what we can learn from them. For ages 4-8.
In the same series by Zoehfeld, see Dinosaurs Big and Small (HarperCollins, 2002) that discusses the range of dinosaur sizes in terms of recognizable measures – an average-size kid, a school bus, an elephant – and Did Dinosaurs Have Feathers? (HarperCollins, 2003) which covers the first discovery of early feathers in a fossilized Archaeopteryx, Chinese fossils of feathered dinosaurs, and the link between dinosaurs and modern birds. For ages 4-8.
Aliki’s Dinosaurs Are Different (HarperCollins, 1986) provides more detailed information than is found is the usual elementary dino book. The dinosaur difference are anatomic and taxonomic: the author explains the dinosaur family tree and shows the difference between the two orders of dinosaurs: the lizard-hipped saurischians and the bird-hipped ornithischians. Pictures, with color-coded bones, show readers how to tell the difference. Additional information is provided through kids exchanging dinosaur facts in cartoon conversation balloons. For ages 5-9.
Walking with Dinosaurs is a six-part series from the BBC: episode titles are New Blood, Time of the Titans, Cruel Sea, Giant of the Skies, Spirits of the Ice Forest, and Death of a Dynasty. Available on DVD or as an Amazon Instant Video.
From the PBS American Experience series, Dinosaur Wars is a video account of the Othniel Marsh/Edward Cope conflict that nonetheless set off a permanent American passion for dinosaurs. The website has background information and a teacher’s guide. Dinosaur Wars is available on DVD or can be watched online at the website.
From the Arizona Museum of Natural History, the downloadable 70+-page illustrated Educator Resource Guide – Dinosaurs has background information, fact lists, photos of fossils, a dinosaur question-and-answer list, information about individual dinosaurs, dinosaur poems, and printable activity sheets.
Bake a T. rex! With these 3-D Dinosaur Cookie Cutters, you can make a collection of slotted cookies that make a stand-up (and yummily edible) dinosaur.
Dinosaurs from Chicken Bones
This one is a craft and a half. Chris McGowan’s How to Make a Dinosaur out of Chicken Bones (HarperPerennial, 1997) has instructions for making an “incredibly realistic) Apatosaurus skeleton from chicken bones. (You’ll need three chickens, boiled; the book includes recipes for the leftover.) A fun and challenging project. This clever book is out of print, but inexpensive used copies and readily available. (And check the library.) For ages 9 and up.