Dinosaur Skeletons

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SWBAT to construct a model of a dinosaur skeleton.

Big Idea

How can dinosaurs skeletons help paleontologists learn about dinosaurs?

Setting the Stage

National Science Teaching Standards

Earth Science

  • Properties of Earth Materials

Fossils can provide evidence about the environment, plants, and animals from the past. In this lesson, students learn about dinosaurs and how they appeared more than 215 million years ago  on Earth and remained  on Earth for nearly 150 million years.  They died about 65 million years ago. Scientists predict that it could have been due to global climate changes. The lesson helps support students understanding how scientists learned about dinosaurs from their fossils.  Scientists also learn about dinosaurs by comparing them to animals that live today. Also, this lesson helps to support 2nd grade Tennessee Standards.

Science and Engineering Practice: 

SP 2 addressees making models. In K-2, students learn how to create models to explain their scientific investigations. The lesson permits students to replicate a model of a dinosaur  by using chenille sticks while reading books about dinosaurs.

SP 8 addresses obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in K–2. Students communicate information with others in oral and written form to discuss scientific ideas.  In this lesson, groups communicate about the dinosaurs skeletons as they collaborate collectively.

Prior Knowledge:

Students understand that dinosaurs are extinct and they recognize some dinosaurs in various prints such as: books, magazines, and videos. They also understand that scientists learn about dinosaurs from their fossils. They also know that paleontologists study dinosaurs.

Junior Scientists:

In my class, my students are called Junior Scientists. They wear lab jackets that they created early in the school year, to wear during their experiments. I call them junior scientists to encourage them to major in Science and Math related careers. I want them to develop a love for Science and Math. Also, we sing "It is Science Time" or "I Got A Feeling"before each lesson.




10 minutes

At their desks, students will sing a song at the opening of each science lesson.  This song motivates and engages my Junior Scientists.

I call on students to read our "I Can" statement for the day. While using a microphone, a scientist says, "I can create a model of dinosaur skeletons." The "I Can" statement helps students take ownership of the  lesson as they put standards in to context. The other students praise the student that reads the "I Can" statement by clapping.  I encourage students to give each other praise to boost their self-esteem.

Students observe a Dinosaur PowerPoint. The PowerPoint is shown because it helps my visual learners and it helps the students grasp the content being taught. 

After the Powerpoint, I pose to the students:  Are fossils just bones of dinosaurs? I ask the students this question so I can check for understanding. This question helps me address misconceptions that fossils are more than bones, but fossil prints.

I say we are on the move and the students sing the "We Are On The Move" song and proceed to their groups' tables.



25 minutes

To address the science and engineering practices for developing and using models, students use the steps of the engineering design process. I ask the students to recall the engineering design steps: ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve, to make sure that they comprehend each step. Students are reminded about safety rules and group rules. I remind the students to make sure that they stay on task. Also, it is important that they understand that scientists must follow safety rules in order to stay out of danger.

My students proceed to their group tables when I say "We Are On The Move" and they stand and sing, "We Are On The Move." This routine helps my students to move to their table with very little distraction. This also helps my auditory learners who enjoy singing as well as my kinesthetic children that enjoy moving.  

Here is the process that I lead with the students..... 

When students get to their tables, they begin to assign their roles: a person to lead, record, measure, and report. I assign the leader which is one of my advanced students. Leadership qualities are present. They put on their group labels with a clothes pin to ensure that I know each child's role.  I want all my students to take ownership of their learning, so assigning roles permits students to develop confidence as well as use their strengths to accomplish their group's goals.  All hands must be on deck.  The groups are reminded of the group rules. The group rules are located at their table so they can reference them.

The Engineering Design Lab sheet is located at their table. Scientists use lab sheets to record their information and to assist with their investigation. Therefore, the lab sheet helps students begin to work and think like a scientist with very little guidance from me.

Students are informed that they will complete the engineering design process. They are invited to create questions about the items, scissors, dinosaur books and the chenille sticks.  They ask questions about the materials that they see and they are provided with a science question stem sheet. The science questions stem sheet helps the students to develop questions that relate to their science investigation. They record at least 2 questions on their sheets. I  provide the students with 5 minutes to assist with staying on task. I permit some groups to share their questions with the groups.

Then students are informed that they must design a model of an dinosaur skeleton. They are encouraged to imagine and sketch the kind of dinosaur skeleton they want to create. Next, they create the dinosaur skeleton using chenille sticks. They are given 20 minutes complete the task.

Groups are invited to share their model with the group, so their peers can provide suggestions and compliments. If groups want to improve, they are provided additional time to improve their model. In providing feedback students are afforded the opportunity to learn from their peers.

Dinosaur Skeleton (Group Presenting)-video

Engineering Design Lab Sheet-Student Work


10 minutes

While the students are at their desks, I posed the following questions? How did you know know to create your model? How is your dinosaur skeleton similar or different from a real dinosaur skeleton? I asked the students these questions because it makes them reflect over how they created their model and how it should have replicated a real dinosaur skeleton. It also permits students to understand how paleontologists create dinosaur skeletons form fossil prints.

Science Journal

I invite students to illustrate a model of their dinosaur skeleton in their journal. The students should also write a sentence about their dinosaur. This is done to permit students to demonstrate their learning about their investigation while using creative arts.