Dinosaur Roar Preschool Unit
Dinosaurs are a wonderful theme for a preschool unit because you can so easily integrate literacy, math, science, imagination and more. They were dynamic and fascinating creatures they inspire great books and ignite a child's creativity. They also were varied in size and other characteristics which lends itself easily to all sorts of math explorations.
Get ready to learn about dinosaurs across domains!
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It seemed somewhat inevitable that my preschoolers would eventually become interested in Dinosaurs. It is a common interest likely because they are such fascinated and varied creatures. The unknowns about dinosaurs and their vast differences are intriguing and inspire creativity and curiosity.
My kids came and went from their interest in dinosaurs for a while. It would briefly spark from a dinosaur book they found at the library or an episode of Dinosaur Train or a trip to the science museum and then it would quickly wane.
When I asked them what they wanted to learn more about this Spring, however, they both agreed dinosaurs would be fun so that is where we began.
Below are the field trips we took, books we read, activities we did during group time, and materials/invitations added to the environment.
Natural Science Museum
We visited the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science during our unit because it had a visited exhibit on Dinosaur Eggs. It was fascinating and had a lot of great hands on activities for preschoolers. Check your local Natural Science Museum - many have a permanent display about Dinosaurs.
Dinosaur Roar! by Paul & Henrietta Stickland
I have loved this book since I was a toddler teacher and my own kids have enjoyed it for years. It is great for toddlers because it is short, rhymes, and introduces some excellent vocabulary words. It turns out it also works as a great choral reading book for a preschool dinosaur unit. We read this several times a week together to work on recognizing some sight words, identifying rhyming words, and more. 1+
National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs by Catherine D. Hughes
We have loved every book in the National Geographic Little Kids series. The illustrations are stunning and then information is age approrpriate and interesting. Such high quality books to add to your collection on all of your favorite topics. 3+
Dinosaurs Roar, Butterflies Soar! by Bob Barner
This is a another good book for working on rhyming words with preschoolers but it also happens to have some fascinating information about dinosaurs and butterflies. 2+
I'm Big! by Kate and Jim McMullan
My kids are hugely fascinated by the big-ness of dinosaurs and Apatosaurus was the biggest. In this story, by the creators of I Stink!, a Sauropod gets left behind by his herd when he oversleeps. In his hunt to reunit with his family, he meets various other friendly dinosaurs and a few less friendly ones. His size comes in handy several times illustrating the way these dinosaurs might have functioned. A simple, funny story that is perfect for preschoolers. 2+
Dino-Mike Series by Franco
This series has been a huge hit with my preschoolers and fits perfectly with this unit. The first in the series is Dino-Mike and the T.Rex Attack and there is a whole series of fun titles. We were reading Dino-Mike and the Underwater Dinosaur while doing this unit. They are all fast-paced adventure stories with just enough scientific fact. 4+
Dinosaurs Math Game
We used our play dinosaurs and these simple number rocks to do some simple Math.
Set up: Place the number rocks inside the bag and spread out some dinosaurs on a table top or the floor.
1. The first person reaches into the bag and picks a rock. They read the number and then choose that many dinosaurs. Do this around the circle until everyone has dinosaurs.
2. Next, reach into the bag and choose another rock. Read the number and ADD that many dinosaurs from your pile. Count your dinosaurs to determine your new total. Repeat this around the circle.
3. Finally, reach into the bag and choose a last rock. Read the number and SUBTRACT that many dinosaurs from your pile. Count your dinosaurs to determine your total. Repeat around the circle.
Optional: You can write out the math problems as you go or show them with number rocks or manipulatives. If you are feeling competative, the person with the highest number at the end could win. Put everything back to reset and then you can play again.
Sorting & Classifying Dinosaurs
After we played the Math game above, my preschoolers wanted to play with the dinosaurs and then ended up sorting them into pairs based on type of dinosaurs. They remembered the term "classifying" and used this while they were playing. When we cleaned up I asked if they wanted to do some more classifying during our next group time and they said Yes!
For this group time I prepared three circles from construction paper and brought over our trusty dinosaurs again. To start, I sorted the dinosaurs into quadrapeds and bipeds on two of the circles and asked them what made the dinosaurs on the yellow square the same. After they figured it out, we sorted them in different ways; by what they eat, by whether they fly, by how big they are, etc.
Measurement + Dinosaurs
While we were sorting I heard a lot of discussion about the size of dinosaurs. We used the pbskids.org Dinosaur Train section to help us learn more about how big the different dinosuars were. They approximate each dinosaur based on how many kids tall they were. When we re-grouped the next day, I decided to work on some measurement and continue our conversation on size.
Imagining + Creating Dinosaurs
Our mini-dinosaurs took up residence on the block shelf during this unit when they weren't being counted or stomped in playdoh. They lived in block caves. They rode on dinosaur trains. They even built magna-tile skyscrapers.
Dinosaurs + Sensory Play
I created simple invitations with our play dinosaurs and various materials during this unit. Our favorites were;
Dinosaurs + Playdoh
Dinosaurs + Silly Putty
Dinosaurs + Foam Dough
Books About Dinosaurs
Counting Rocks or Number Manipulatives
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