EARLY YEARS THEMES
A complete unit of lessons and activities
Early years theme—Animals
Published by R.I.C. Publications ® 2010
Copyright © R.I.C. Publications ® 2010
Titles in this series:
Early years themes—Places
Early years themes—People
Early years themes—Animals
Early years themes—Science
Early years themes—Fantasy
Early years themes—Fairytales
Early years themes—Special days and celebrations
Early years themes—Animals Posters (set of 5)
Early years themes—Animals Stickers (set of 5)
Early years themes Interactive CD (Places, People,
Early years themes Interactive CD (Fantasy, Fairytales,
Special days and celebrations)
This master may only be reproduced by the
original purchaser for use with their class(es). The
publisher prohibits the loaning or onselling of this
master for the purposes of reproduction.
Only the blackline masters contained within this
publication may only be reproduced by the original
purchaser for use with their class(es). The publisher
prohibits the loaning or onselling of these blackline
masters for purposes of reproduction. No other part of
this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying
or recording, or by any information storage and retrieval
system, without written permission from the publisher.
In some cases, websites or specific URLs may be recommended. While these are checked and rechecked at the time of publication,
the publisher has no control over any subsequent changes which may be made to webpages. It is strongly recommended that the class
teacher checks all URLs before allowing students to access them.
View all pages online
PO Box 332 Greenwood Western Australia 6924
Early themes —Animals
Early themes—Animals is one of a new series of teacher resource books designed to support teachers as they impart knowledge
about commonly-taught themes in early childhood classrooms. The books contain a variety of ideas for using the themes to
assist teachers as they convey early skills and concepts using cross-curricular activities in learning centres or whole class
Titles in this series include:
• Early themes—Places Supporting materials available from R.I.C.
• Early themes—People Publications ® to accompany these books
include posters, stickers and interactives.
• Early themes—Animals
• Early themes—Science
• Early themes—Fantasy
• Early themes—Fairytales
• Early themes—Special days and celebrations
Teachers notes ......................................................................... iv – xiii
The format of this series of books ........................................... iv – v
An explanation of the icons ......................................................... vi
About the artwork ...................................................................... vii
About the resource sheets/blacklines ............................................ vii
Curriculum links ....................................................................... viii
Sample social skills checklist ...................................................... ix
Sample language skills checklist .................................................. x
Sample fi ne motor skills checklist ................................................ xi
Sample fundamental movement skills checklist ............................. xii
Sample mathematics skills checklist ........................................... xiii
R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Animals iii
The format of this series of books
This series of books is designed to cater for early childhood teachers who use learning centres and cross-curricular activities as
a basis for planning activities to develop key concepts and skills. Teachers will easily be able to locate activity-based learning
within this complete compilation of ideas.
All of the five themes within each book follow the same format over 20 pages. Each theme consists of:
1. A title or cover page with
appropriate artwork which the
teacher can utilise for themebased
2. A number of pages of cross-curricular learning activities to develop the
theme. Those themes which relate closely to a specifi c learning area may
have more activities in key learning areas such as science. All themes
have activities which are predominantly ‘hands-on’.
3. Background information with useful
facts about the theme.
4. A list of concepts to be developed
provides suggested developmentallyappropriate
learning outcomes that
are achieved by completing the
iv Early years themes—Animals www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®
The format of this series of books
5. A small number of resource/blackline pages which can be used to create
games or oral language activities, as templates for art and craft activities
or as worksheets for more capable children who are beginning to read and
understand mathematical concepts.
6. Recipes relating to the theme—simple
cooking and non-cooking recipes,
including those for manipulative play,
such as ‘goop’.
7. Display ideas for art and craft or
specifi c learning centres.
8. A list of literature resources to
complement the theme, including
songs, action rhymes and fi ction
and nonfi ction books.
9. A notes section to enable the teacher
to record useful websites or resources
relating to the theme, or other
worthwhile activities or ideas etc.
R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Animals v
An explanation of the icons
A number of icons have been used throughout the cross-curricular activities sections to make it easier and quicker for teachers to
locate appropriate learning activities.
Fine motor activities—building with blocks, puzzles, sorting, sand and water play, sensory items
such as ‘feely boxes’, playdough or clay work, threading, chalkboards, construction using recycled
materials such as boxes
Outdoor play—sand and/or water play (see also ‘fi ne motor activities’); gross motor activities such as
climbing, balancing, bikes, scooters, jumping, throwing, obstacle course activities etc.; tracking activities
using balloons and bubbles etc.; other messy art activities
Dramatic play—home corner, dramatising stories, dressing up, puppets, shopping etc.
Art and craft—free painting, directed and supervised painting,
craft (assisted and independent)
Computer—suggestions for simple games or activities (usually
individual or pairs) or relevant internet activities
Cooking—supervised activities, some of which use heat and others which do not
Games—indoor or outdoor games relating to literacy such as card games, memory
games etc.; mathematics, singing games, any physical education games involving
Writing—tracing, copying, writing on, and with, different things—cards, different types of paper etc.;
adding patterns or stripes etc.; tracking and following paths, dot-to-dot activities etc.
vi Early years themes—Animals www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®
About the artwork
All the artwork in this series of books is:
• teacher- and child-friendly
• an additional resource to help develop the theme
• suitable for enlarging for:
~ dot-to-dot sheets
~ use as templates for art and craft activities
~ visual texts to encourage oral language development.
Some artworks are based on simple shapes to support learning in the
mathematics area; others are more elaborate. It is expected that early
childhood teachers will view an illustration based on shapes and be
able to use this idea to develop concrete play activities using shapes or
as a technology and design project. More elaborate artwork is used to
demonstrate a teaching resource which needs to be made, a recipe, game
or other activity.
Examples of artwork relating to art and craft activities have wide, bold, easily
visible cutting outlines to allow the children some variation in the cutting path
they will use.
About the resource sheets/blacklines
All resource sheets/blacklines contain:
• simple, age-appropriate artwork
• prominent visual clues
• little or no text
• visual clues to support text pages
• few instructions, so as not to confuse
• teacher instructions in the margins with a
number of different suggestions for using the
• some literacy and numeracy activities.
These resource sheets/blacklines are included as
valuable time-savers for teachers.
It is anticipated that the teacher will enlarge any pages to
A3 size and photocopy them onto more durable paper or
card, to make them easier for learners of this age group to
The cross-curricular section of each theme includes a reference to resource
sheets/blacklines relating to specifi c activities.
R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Animals vii
All the learning activities in this series of books support the key learning areas of the current curriculum documents.
In particular, one or more activities also support each strand of the new English and Mathematics National Curriculum. The
specifi c strands from the National Curriculum relating to each activity are denoted by the words in brackets in the English and
Mathematics learning areas of the cross-curricular section.
For example, in ‘Bears’ theme:
English ‘Cut ‘focus’ letters from corrugated card or sandpaper and place on a writing table. The children place a
piece of white paper over the letters and rub the side of a crayon over the letters.’ (Language)
Mathematics ‘Children place fi ve different-sized teddy bears in order from smallest to biggest. They could repeat,
starting with the biggest bear.’ (Number and Algebra)
Reference to both is shown below.
Relevant curriculum reference
National Curriculum: refer to pages 6 and 11 of Shape of the Australian Curriculum: English
National Curriculum: refer to pages 6 and 7 of Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics
National Curriculum: Science learning activities also support pages 6 and 7 Shape of the Australian
Belonging, being and becoming: The early years framework for Australia (2009)
Refer to Early years curriculum guidelines page 55 (Table 9: A
summary of the learning statements in the early learning areas)
and pages 61–75.
Refer to ‘Early years band: Age 3–Age 5’. South Australian
Curriculum, Standards and Accountability at < http://www.decs.
Refer to Victorian essential learning standards Level 1 at
< http://vels.vcaa.vic.edu.au/vels/level1.html# >.
Refer to K-3 scope-and-sequence charts at < http://k-
viii Early years themes—Animals www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®
Sample social skills checklist
shares with others
and takes turns
property of others
feelings of others
is developing an
awareness of the
R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Animals ix
Sample language skills checklist
communicates needs clearly
articulates most words
relates personal experiences
contributes to discussions
articulates most initial sounds
asks appropriate questions
speaks in complete sentences
relates events in order of
able to tell a story from
retells a familiar story without
pictures or clues
uses simple compound
responds appropriately to
questions about himself/herself
listens to a story for a given
length of time
follows simple two-step
knows his/her fi rst and last
recognises rhyming words
answers simple oral cloze
labels emotions such as
happy, sad, angry, scared …
x Early years themes—Animals www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®
Sample fine motor skills checklist
completes simple puzzles
builds a tower of eight or
more small blocks
dresses himself/herself (apart
from buttons and shoelaces)
manipulates playdough to
create a specifi c object
places small pegs in small
threads small beads
uses scissors to cut out
simple shapes and pictures
completes simple folding
uses a knife, fork and spoon
holds a crayon or pencil
colours within lines
writes or copies own name
draws and copies simple
copies a sequence of letters
or numbers adequately
traces or recreates patterns
R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Animals xi
Sample fundamental movement skills checklist
one foot (static
catches a ball or
throws a ball or
beanbag using an
kicks a ball
strikes a ball or
object using a
dodges a ball or
xii Early years themes—Animals www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®
Sample mathematics skills checklist
Number and algebra Measurement and geometry Statistics and probability
recognises numerals 1 to
writes numerals 1 to
rote counts to
places numerals to
in correct order
understands ‘more than’ or ‘less
able to do simple addition and
subtraction using concrete materials
creates or completes a pattern
measures using everyday items
makes comparison of size and
recognises basic shapes
identifi es attributes of objects and
is aware of use of devices for
measuring (scales, tape etc.)
shows awareness of
(money, temperature, time)
sorts or orders objects
is aware of collections and
presentations of data
interprets data in a display
makes predictions about chance
R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Animals xiii
• Over a couple of days, read and compare two books
about dinosaurs—one a fi ction text and the other a
nonfi ction text. Ask children what they liked about each
and how they were different. (Literature)
• Read some of the books written by Jane Yolen (see page
99) and compare the behaviour of the dinosaurs in the
story to that of real children. (Literature)
• View suitable television shows or DVDs such as Dorothy
the Dinosaur, The land before time or We’re back! A
dinosaur’s story. Discuss what is make-believe (the
dinosaurs can talk, people did not live when dinosaurs
did) or what could be true (many dinosaurs ate plants).
• Choose a fi ction book about dinosaurs that has a clear
setting, characters, and a plot with a beginning, middle
and end. Read and discuss the story with the children.
They can then draw something they remembered from the
story. Children can show their picture to a small group
or the whole class and retell that part of the story in their
own words (with prompting if necessary). (Literature,
• Children participate in visual discrimination activities.
Draw rows of dinosaur pictures (you could copy and
cut dinosaur pictures like those on page 90 to use as a
template). Make one dinosaur in each row different; e.g.
facing a different direction, has a tail missing. Children
have to identify the odd one out. (Literacy)
• Using a large picture, point to various parts of a dinosaur.
Ask children for the word that names that part. Then ask if
they can think of a rhyming word; e.g. claw–saw, plate–
late, tail–snail. (Language)
• Display a selection of dinosaur pictures and discuss their
features. Give children ‘What am I?’ clues to guess the
dinosaur you are describing. Children could give their
own clue suggestions for others to guess. (Literacy)
• Children make up dinosaur names based on their own
name; e.g. Dylannosaurus, Bronteraptor, Zacodon.
• Children think of describing words (adjectives) for
different dinosaurs; e.g. tyrannosaurus: scary, fi erce,
terrible, huge; velociraptor: small, fast. (Literacy)
• Circle game: In circles of fi ve to six, children take turns
fi nishing sentences such as: ‘If I was a dinosaur, I would
be a ...’, ‘If I had a pet dinosaur, I would ...’.
As an extension activity, glue pictures of different dinosaurs
on card and attach a length of wool so it can fi t over a
child’s head. Place one picture around a child, with the
picture facing the back so only the other children can
see. The child has to ask questions about the dinosaur’s
features in order to guess the dinosaur. (Pictures of
dinosaurs could be displayed for the child to view and
assist with questions he or she asks.) (Literacy)
• Give each child or pair of children a page with several
dinosaur outlines, each with a different letter on it.
Children pick a letter card from a stack. They check if that
letter is on a dinosaur on their sheet and either cover it
with a counter, mark it with a cross or put an ink stamp
on it. This can be played as a letter identifi cation activity,
or as a game in which the fi rst to cover all their dinosaurs
is the winner. (Language)
• Identify upper- and lower-case letters by fi nding matching
dinosaur jigsaw halves. (Refer to the blackline on page
• Look at the names of different dinosaurs. Use the initial
letter and/or a picture clue to match the words to a set of
dinosaur pictures. (Refer to blacklines on pages 90 and
• Provide a variety of fi ction and nonfi ction texts for
students to view. Place them in a centre in the classroom.
A follow-up activity could be for them to draw a picture
about something they learned and the teacher scribes a
sentence underneath. (Literature)
• Make up alliterative sounding names for different
dinosaurs. Children can trace over the names written
by the teacher and attach them to different dinosaurs
created in the Visual arts activity on page 87; for
example: Stanley Stegosaurus, Tracey Triceratops,
Iggy Iguanodon. (Language)
• Create a class dinosaur book. Each child draws and
colours a dinosaur on a sheet of paper. The teacher can
scribe the name of the dinosaur or children can copy or
trace the name. Staple the pages together to form the book.
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Dinosaurs – 1
• Make a class pictograph on a chart or display board of the
children’s favourite/most feared dinosaurs. (Refer to the
blackline on page 90 for pictures.) (Statistics and Probability)
• From felt pieces, cut out dinosaur ‘bones’ of various lengths.
Children use uniform, informal units to measure each bone;
e.g. interconnecting cubes, counters, MAB unit cubes. (Children
could also estimate before measuring.) (Measurement and
• Make up simple mazes for children to identify and draw the
correct path for a dinosaur to reach its destination. (Refer to the
blackline on page 93.) (Measurement and Geometry)
• Photocopy (or colour) the pictures of different
dinosaurs on page 90 on different-coloured paper.
Cut them out and give each child one dinosaur.
Children have to fi nd the classmate with the same
colour of dinosaur. (Number and Algebra)
• Use two sets of dinosaur pictures to write a
number on one dinosaur and the corresponding
number of dots on its match. Give each child a
card. Children have to fi nd the partner with the
matching number/number of dots. (Refer to page
90 for pictures.) (Number and Algebra)
• This activity will help children realise the length of different dinosaurs. Place a witch’s hat in a long open area outside.
Take one long stride to equal one metre. Using the following measurements to stride out different dinosaur’s lengths,
place another witch’s hat at the end of each measured length for the children to stand back and compare: velociraptor: 2
m, ankylosaurus: 8 m, iguanodon, stegosaurus, triceratops: 9 m, allosaurus, tyrannosaurus: 12 m, diplodocus: 27 m.
(Measurement and Geometry)
• Draw an outline of a stegosaurus on construction paper. The children paint the
outline. Collect a pile of clothes pegs as the ‘plates’ on its back. Children roll a
dice or choose a number card from a pile. They must recognise the number,
count the correct number of pegs and attach them to the stegosaurus’s back.
(Number and Algebra)
• Children identify matching numbers and number names, or
numbers and array of dots, by matching dinosaur jigsaw halves.
(Refer to the blackline on page 95.) (Number and Algebra)
• Give each child or pair of children a sheet with several dinosaur
outlines, each with a different number or shape on it. Children
pick a number/shape card from a stack, or roll a dice. They
check if that number/shape is on a dinosaur on their sheet and
either cover it with a counter, mark it with a cross or put an ink
stamp on it. This can be played as an identifi cation activity, or
as a game in which the fi rst to cover all their dinosaurs is the
winner. (Refer to the blackline on page 90 for pictures.) (Number
and Algebra, Measurement and Geometry)
• Use the templates on page 89 to make sets of cards for a game
of ‘Count the dinosaur’s eggs’. Before photocopying, the teacher
draws a number of eggs in the ‘nest’ and writes three numbers
in the blank boxes (appropriate to the children’s level of ability),
one of which matches the number of eggs. Children use one-toone
correspondence to count the eggs. They use a clothes peg
and clip it to the card to identify the correct amount. (Number
• Create a large dinosaur footprint on a sheet of
paper. It could be that of an apatosaurus or
tyrannosaurus. Trace and cut out a child’s footprint.
Compare the size of each. Children guess how
many footprints would fi t inside the dinosaur’s.
Continue tracing and cutting out children’s
footprints until the dinosaur’s is covered. Compare
estimates. (Measurement and Geometry)
• Use two sets of dinosaur pictures to write a number
on one dinosaur and the corresponding number of
dots or stripes on a matching dinosaur. Give each
child a card. Children have to fi nd a partner with
the matching number or number of dots/stripes.
(Refer to page 90 for pictures.) (Number and
• Place pictures of dinosaurs, or toy dinosaurs, in
a row. Ask children ordinal questions such as:
‘Which dinosaur is second?’ or point to a dinosaur
and ask the child to count ‘fi rst’, ‘second’ etc. to tell
you its correct ordinal place in the row. (Number
R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Animals—Dinosaurs 83
Society and environment
• Read books from the Jane Yolen series about dinosaur characters. (See page 99.) The books contain a variety of concepts
dealing with correct behaviour at home and school that can be discussed with the children after enjoying the book.
• Once children are familiar with a few dinosaurs, discuss if any would make a good pet. A child might suggest that a
tyrannosaurus wouldn’t because it might want to eat him/her, but a stegosaurus might because it would eat grass and there
would be no need to mow the lawn.
• Visit a museum that has a dinosaur display for children to experience.
• Show children pictures of different types of dinosaurs. (The poster
supplied with this book could be used.) Identify and discuss the
major features of each one, along with each dinosaur’s name.
Depending on children’s interest and level of understanding, further facts about
specifi c dinosaurs could be presented to the children. Suggested website:
• Show children pictures of dinosaurs with sharp teeth and claws (meat eaters)
and those with plates, spikes (for protection from meat eaters) and blunt
teeth for grinding (plant eaters). This will help explain the meaning
of the terms. Children might like to know the words ‘carnivore’ and
• Show children a variety of colour dinosaur pictures and discuss what is the same and what is different among them. This
will assist the children to understand how they were all reptiles. Their differences were of size, diet, physical features, way
of moving etc.
• In simple terms, explain to the children what fossils are. (See page 88.) Children might also like to know that a
‘palaeontologist’ is a scientist who studies fossils. Make fossils by impressing the shape of toy dinosaurs or dinosaur
footprints made from modelling clay into playdough.
• Place small plastic dinosaurs, pasta noodles (‘bones’) or chicken bones (boiled in salted water to sterilise) in a sand tray.
Hide them from view. Children can pretend to be palaeontologists and use craft sticks to carefully search for the ‘fossils’
and uncover them. Alternatively, the bones can be placed in playdough, dried in the oven until rock hard and then placed
in the sand tray. When children uncover them, they can use a variety of ‘tools’ to break open the rock and fi nd a ‘fossilised
• Volcanoes were a feature of the landscape during the time of the dinosaurs. Show children scenes of what scientists believe
the landscape looked like at the time. Then children can help make a volcano.
1. Place an empty two-litre soft drink bottle on a large pan with sides.
2. Crumple paper around the bottle to make a general volcano shape. Then use
playdough or modelling clay around the paper shape to form the cone of
the volcano with the bottle inside.
3. Using a funnel, pour tepid water into the bottle to about three-quarters
full. Add a squirt of liquid dishwashing detergent, some red food
colouring and four tablespoons of baking soda. When you are
ready for the ‘eruption’, pour a cup of white vinegar into the bottle.
(To make further eruptions, add more baking soda and vinegar.)
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Dinosaurs – 2
Health and physical education
• Play ‘tyrannosaurus tag’. Use witch’s hats to set a boundary on a grassed area. One child is the meat-eating tyrannosaurus
and the others are plant eaters. When tyrannosaurus tags a plant eater, he or she sits cross-legged on the ground. The last
plant eater to be tagged becomes the new tyrannosaurus.
• Play ‘Don’t fall in the swamp’. Place two ropes along the ground, about 30 cm apart to begin with. Children pretend to
be dinosaurs jumping across the ‘swamp’. Slowly extend the distance after children have all had a turn at the previous
• Play ‘Simon says’ but include dinosaur movement instructions in the orders; e.g. ‘Simon says stomp like a stegosaurus’,
‘Simon says run lightly like a velociraptor’.
• Set up a ‘Dinosaur obstacle course’. Use witch’s hats, ropes, hoops, large cardboard boxes, old tyres, dinosaur footprints
made from thick card that have been laminated for durability, laundry baskets etc. Children have to make their way over,
under, along, through or around the objects on the course. They can walk like a specifi c dinosaur; e.g. thundering on two
legs like a tyrannosaurus, moving slower and steady like a diplodocus on four legs, or lightly running like a velociraptor.
• Play ‘Save the dinosaur eggs’. Place a rope in a circle on the ground at one end of a grassed area and another at the other
side. Place a pile of ‘dinosaur eggs’ (beanbags) in one circle or ‘nest’. Two children are meat-eating dinosaurs trying to
steal the eggs. The other children are plant-eating dinosaurs trying to save the eggs. The plant eaters take one egg at a time
from the nest and try to place them in the other nest. If a meat eater tags a plant eater, he or she has to put the egg back in
the original nest, sit down and count to thirty before continuing the game.
• Cut a hole in each of two shoebox lids. Make them big enough but not too big for
children’s feet to slip out of. (Crumpled newspaper can be added to help feet fi t snuggly.)
Tape each lid to its box. Children can then paint, use markers and add cut-out claws to
make dinosaur feet. Hold dinosaur races and relays.
• Dinosaurs such as triceratops and diplodocus are believed to have
travelled in herds. Divide children into two groups—‘triceratops’ and
‘diplodocus’. The groups have to crawl as a ‘herd’ to various destinations,
either inside or outside the classroom.
• Hide plastic dinosaurs—or those made from playdough or modelling
clay children have made in craft/science activities—in the classroom or
in a set area outside. Children pretend to move like dinosaurs and see
how many they can fi nd.
• Play ‘Feed the dinosaur’. Children help to make and paint a large dinosaur’s head; e.g. tyrannosaurus. (Use thick card
or plaster board.) Cut out a hole for the mouth and add cardboard teeth. Prop the head up against a chair or across a
doorway. Children have turns trying to throw beanbags into the mouth to feed the dinosaur.
• Play ‘Pin the horn on the triceratops’. Children help to paint a large triceratops on construction paper, minus one of the
three horns on its head. Give each child a horn made from paper with double-sided tape at one end. Taking turns, blindfold
children and have them attempt to put their horn on the correct place on the triceratops.
R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Animals—Dinosaurs 85
• Make dinosaur sock puppets for children
to use in mini dinosaur dramas. Children
can paint a row from an egg carton to
be the scales or bumps on a dinosaur’s
back. Glue to one length of a sock. Add
googly eyes, buttons or pinch two small
circles at the front of the
sock and tie with cotton
to form eyes.
• Watch a Wiggles DVD and learn the ‘Dorothy the Dinosaur dance’.
• Children move like different dinosaurs: stomping like a triceratops,
lumbering like an apatosaurus, tearing fl esh like a tyrannosaurus,
running lightly like a velociraptor or hatching from an egg like a baby
• One child pretends to move and act like a specifi c dinosaur and the
others have to guess which one he or she is.
• Attach paper bags to children’s feet. They can stomp around
• Make ‘dinosaur snouts’ from a paper or plastic cup with a
triangle cut out in the bottom. Attach hat elastic so it will fi t over
the children’s heads. They pretend to be different dinosaurs,
making roaring, snorting, breathing noises.
• Children scrunch up into a ball and imagine they are a baby
dinosaur yet to hatch out of an egg. Tell them to tap the inside
of the egg with their ‘beak’ (nose) to crack it. They keep tapping
until the eggshell has broken in half. They stretch their front legs
and back legs and gradually squirm out of their shell. They are
a bit unsteady on their feet for a while, but manage to stand up.
Then they check out their new world and fi nd a plant to eat (or
a leftover carcass if a meat eater), hide from an enemy etc.
• Children use various musical instruments to create a soundscape of life during the age of the dinosaurs. They can move like
dinosaurs as they play the instruments.
• Form a ‘Prehistoric animal brigade band’ and sing the song while marching in the band. Refer to for the tune.
• Clap rhythm patterns/syllables using dinosaur names (e.g. dip/lo/do/cus), clapping each syllable
or playing a musical triangle in rhythm.
• Move like dinosaurs according to the music; e.g. loud and slow like a diplodocus; loud,
heavy but quicker, like a tyrannosaurus; light and quick like a velociraptor.
Technology (and design)
• Provide a variety of different-sized boxes: cereal boxes, shoeboxes etc.; paper
scraps; glue; scissors; tape; crayons; markers; and paints and paintbrushes.
In pairs, children design and make a dinosaur model using the materials.
• Children imagine they have a pet dinosaur. They talk about what would be needed to keep a
dinosaur as a pet and plan what it would need; e.g. an enclosure where it could be kept, how
to feed it, how to bathe it, how it would get exercise. These plans can be talked about and drawn
on large sheets of paper.
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Dinosaurs – 3
• Draw large outlines of different dinosaurs. Children paint these with paint rollers, corks, vegetable prints and other objects to
get a scaly textured effect. When dry, children can help label each dinosaur. Describing words about each dinosaur could be
added as they learn interesting facts about each one.
• Use the playdough recipe on page 96 to mould dinosaur shapes. Display each with a label.
• Make papier-mâché dinosaur eggs. Make a glue by stirring three parts water with one part plain fl our until mixture is
smooth and creamy. Children help to tear lots of newspaper into narrow strips. Blow up a balloon for each child. (A toy
dinosaur can be placed inside before blowing it up.) Children dip strips of newspaper into the glue mixture (or use a stiff
paintbrush). Lay the strips around the balloon. Have at least two layers surrounding the balloon, with each layer drying
overnight. Allow the fi nished egg to completely dry for a few days. Children can then decorate the eggs with paint or markers.
Explain to them that scientists have not discovered what colour dinosaurs’ eggs were. They may have been camoufl aged
to blend in with twigs, mud, fallen leaves etc. Some were placed in nests dug from the soil. Later, children can ‘crack’ their
egg and ‘hatch’ their baby dinosaur.
• Give children an outline of a dinosaur. They can either glue pasta noodles around the outline or cover the interior.
• Children can complete a similar activity to that above by tearing strips of green or brown coloured paper and gluing it to cover
the interior of a dinosaur outline.
• Children make dinosaurs, using a small plate as the basis for
the body. Cut out feet, heads, tails, scales, horns etc. from other
paper plates. Children can choose various parts and then colour
and decorate them by painting or using crayons or markers.
Assist them to staple or glue the parts together to make their
own dinosaurs. A length of wool or ribbon could be added
to hang them for display.
• After children have coloured in and cut out a stegosaurus
outline made from card, assist them to use a thick needle
threaded with wool to sew around the edge. (Refer to the
blackline on page 92.)
• Children make stuffed paper dinosaurs. Enlarge outlines of
dinosaurs (the pictures on page 90 could be used) and give
each child two identical copies. Staple the two copies together
around the edges, leaving a gap wide enough for the children
to stuff the dinosaur. They decorate both sides of the dinosaur and
add eyes, nostrils, a scaly covering etc. Crayons, paint, markers and
stickers can be used. Children stuff the dinosaurs with crumpled paper,
newspaper or tissue paper. When fi nished, staple the gap for them.
• Gluing a variety of dried pasta on black construction paper is an effective way to make and display dinosaur skeletons; for
example: spaghetti, rotini, macaroni, rigatoni, linguine. (Cut up long pieces to desired lengths.)
• Draw a simple outline of a dinosaur’s face on thick card.
Children sponge paint or use wax crayon to make markings
before applying green, brown or grey watercolour paint. Cut
out the shape and eye holes to make a mask. Attach elastic to
the back. Refer to the blackline on page 94 for an example of
• Children pretend to be a dinosaur that is painting. Wear a
painting shirt and put a sock on their painting hand to make it
seem as if they don’t have hands (like dinosaurs didn’t). They
paint either a prehistoric scene or an abstract painting using
tempera paint and thick or long-handled paintbrushes.
• Make dinosaur handprints. Tape the children’s
ring and little fi nger together, and their second
and third fi ngers together. They place their hand
in a tray of greenish, brownish or greyish paint
and then press their hand fi rmly onto a sheet
of paper. These could be displayed with each
child’s name. Compare handprints. They could
also be used in counting games.
R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Animals—Dinosaurs 87
Teacher background information
The name ‘dinosaurs’ is given to the group of extinct prehistoric reptiles which lived during the Mesozoic era, about 230 million
years ago. Dinosaurs existed for about 165 million years, mysteriously disappearing about 65 million years ago.
The word ‘dinosaur’ comes from two Greek words—’deino’ and ‘saurus’—meaning ‘terrible lizard’ or ‘fearfully great reptile’. Many
of them were among the largest animals to have lived on Earth.
All dinosaurs lived on land—none fl ew or lived in water. Any animals that did this are termed prehistoric animals. There were
many different kinds of dinosaurs but they didn’t all live at the same time. Each species probably only lived for four to fi ve million
years through the Triassic, Jurassic and, fi nally, the Cretaceous periods during the Mesozoic era. Dinosaurs were divided into two
groups—lizard-hipped (Saurischia) and bird-hipped (Ornithischia).
Much of the knowledge we have gained about dinosaurs has come from fossils. Fossils are the remains of an animal or plant
from long ago. Most fossils are made from hard, bony parts, such as bones, teeth and claws. Over time, these have been covered
with sand and mud and become hard like stone. Trace fossils are the remains of a body part such as droppings, nests and eggs;
or marks made by animals, such as footprints. A palaeontologist is a scientist who studies fossils. A lot of information has been
discovered about dinosaurs in relation to variations in walking, speed of movement, size, feeding habits, coverings and method of
protecting themselves. Not much is known about the colours, patterns, sounds, behaviour or mating habits.
There are two main groups of dinosaurs—herbivores (plant eaters) and carnivores (meat eaters). A few dinosaurs were omnivores
(ate both plants and animals). Carnivores had strong sharp teeth and claws to kill and tear their prey apart. They usually had strong
legs to pursue their prey. Herbivores had hard blunt teeth for tearing leaves or fl at teeth for grinding plants.
Dinosaurs had tough skin covered with scales. Many of them had built-in ‘armour’ for protection against carnivorous species.
Examples of these defensive ‘weapons’ included horns, spikes, frills, tail clubs and armoured plates.
Scientists don’t know exactly why the dinosaurs became extinct. Some believe the climate of the world became too cold and the
dinosaurs died. Others believe the meat-eating dinosaurs killed so many that the remainder were not able to survive. Another theory
is that the fi rst appearance of fl owering plants caused the plant-eating dinosaurs to be poisoned. The most popular theory, however,
is that a massive meteorite hit Earth, covering it in thick clouds of dust that blocked the sun. Extremely rapid environmental changes
occurred, to which the dinosaurs (and many other animals) were unable to adjust. No dinosaur fossils have been found from 65
million years ago, lending support to this mass extinction theory.
Note: Websites such as gives teachers basic background
information and illustrations about a variety of dinosaurs.
Concepts to be developed
• Dinosaurs lived a very long time ago, before people lived on Earth.
• Dinosaurs were reptiles.
• Dinosaurs lived on land.
• Most dinosaurs hatched from eggs.
• Some dinosaurs were meat eaters and some dinosaurs were plant eaters.
• Some dinosaurs walked on two legs and others walked on four legs.
• Some dinosaurs could run fast and others were slow moving.
• Some dinosaurs were huge and others were quite small.
• Fossils tell us information about dinosaurs.
• A person who studies dinosaurs is called a palaeontologist.
88 Early years themes—Animals—Dinosaurs www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®
Dinosaur counting templates
Instructions: In each card, the teacher draws a different amount of eggs in each nest and writes three different numbers in the blank boxes, one of which matches the number of eggs.
Photocopy onto thick card, colour and laminate. Children use a clothes peg to clip onto the correct number.
R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Animals—Dinosaurs 89
Instructions: Can be enlarged to A3. Colour, cut out and laminate (optional) the pictures. Use with matching labels on page 91,
Maths pictograph on page 83 or use the pictures for teacher-made worksheets or games.
90 Early years themes—Animals—Dinosaurs www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®
Instructions: Can be enlarged to A3. Colour, cut out and laminate (optional). Use with or without the picture clues to label the dinosaurs on page 90 or for the children to trace or copy at a writing centre.
R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Animals—Dinosaurs 91
Instructions: Photocopy onto thick card. Use a hole puncher to make holes in solid dots. Children can use crayons, pencils and markers to colour their stegosaurus. Cut up lengths of thick,
different-coloured wool. Children choose a colour. Assist them to thread wool onto large, blunt needles and demonstrate how to sew around the outline.
92 Early years themes—Animals—Dinosaurs www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®
Instructions: Children follow a maze to help stegosaurus fi nd its way to the other dinosaurs. Before children use a pencil or crayon to draw the path through the maze, they should use their
eyes and a fi nger to plot the path. They might also draw light dots on the path in case an error is made before drawing the actual path.
R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Animals—Dinosaurs 93
Instructions: Photocopy onto thick card. Children can sponge paint the outline or use wax crayons to make features and wash with green, brown or grey watercolour paint.
Assist them to cut out the shape and eye holes. Staple elastic at the back of the mask about 3 cm towards the edge from each eye hole to custom fi t to each child’s head.
94 Early years themes—Animals—Dinosaurs www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®
Dinosaur jigsaw match
Instructions: Photocopy required amount onto card to make sets of cards. On each set, either write matching upper- and
lower-case letters, numbers and dots or number and number name on each jigsaw half. Colour, cut out and laminate.
R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Animals—Dinosaurs 95
Dinosaur egg snack
Dinosaur egg soap
• hard-boiled, unshelled eggs
• green food colouring
• Place hard-boiled, unshelled eggs in bowls of water with
green food colouring added to desired shade. Lift out with a
slotted spoon and dry on paper towels. Use felt-tipped pens
to put speckles on the eggs. Place in a ‘nest’—a basket fi lled
with paper straw. Children can crack open their egg and
enjoy it at snack time.
• dry soap fl akes
• Make a paste of soap fl akes and water. Form it into an egg
shape around a plastic dinosaur. Allow to dry. The eggs
will ‘hatch’ when immersed in water such as when children
wash their hands or during bath/shower time.
(for use with moulding dinosaurs etc.)
• 2 cups plain fl our
• 4 tbs. cream of tartar
• 2 tbs. cooking oil
• 1 cup salt
• 2 cups water
• food colouring
• Mix all ingredients in a saucepan. Stir over a medium heat until all congealed. Add drops of chosen colour of food colouring
and mix by hand until desired colour is achieved.
• 175 g butter
• 300 g caster sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 tsp. vanilla essence
• 350 g plain fl our
• decorations: sultanas, raisins,
currants, mixed peel, choc bits,
• Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fl uffl y.
Mix in egg and vanilla. Add sifted fl our and mix well
to form a dough. Knead the dough on a lightly fl oured
surface. With clean hands, children shape lumps of dough
into different dinosaur shapes. Dough can also be used with
dinosaur cookie cutters. Decorate the dinosaurs. Bake at 180 °C
for 10 minutes.
96 Early years themes—Animals—Dinosaurs www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®
Jelly dinosaur fossils
Spiky dinosaur tails
• 3 to 4 packets jelly crystals
• slices of fruit cut up into ‘dinosaur bone’ shapes
• Make jelly according to directions. Pour into 3 to 4 clear
bowls or containers. (Allow to cool slightly if using plastic
containers.) Add cut up fruit and allow to set. Children ‘dig’
for ‘dinosaur fossils’ using a plastic spoon.
• half banana, cut widthwise (for each child)
• cooked popcorn or choc bits
• For each child, place half a banana on a plate. Children
take several choc bits or unbuttered popcorn to put on top
of the banana at intervals to be the spikes on a dinosaur’s
tail. Squash each piece slightly into the banana. Eat with a
spoon or fi ngers.
• sliced white, brown or wholemeal bread
• bananas, cut lengthways and then into four pieces
• corn chips
• mild salsa dip, fruit chutney, mild mustard, cream cheese,
slices of ham (optional)
• Choose a condiment to spread onto slices of bread. Add a
slice of ham (optional). Top with another bread slice. Cut into four
triangles. Place the triangles, pointed side up, on serving plates. (Put the
triangles with the same fi lling on the same serving plate to make it easier for children
to choose.) Wedge three to four corn chips into each sandwich to make the stegosaurus’s
plates. Put one banana slice at one end of the sandwich as its head. Place two raisins on each
side of the banana as the eyes.
Meat-eater and plant-eater platters
• Meat-eater suggestions: ham, polony/devon,
chicken and other cold meats that have been
rolled up or cut into bite-sized chunks; dips or
spreads using tins of tuna or salmon mixed
with cream cheese.
• Plant-eater suggestions: selection of fruit cut
into slices or chunks, selection of vegetables
cut up into slices or bite-sized chunks, dips
or spreads using vegetables as a base; e.g.
• Arrange the foods on different platters. Revise
or discuss how some dinosaurs were meateaters
(carnivores) and others were planteaters
(herbivores). Talk about what these
words mean and what foods belong in each
category. Children can then become meateaters
R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Animals—Dinosaurs 97
Land of the dinosaurs classroom
• Turn the classroom into the land of the dinosaurs. Children can help create model volcanoes, ferns and trees to set the scene.
Dinosaurs created in the activity on page 87 can be added to the display. Plastic dinosaurs and real or artifi cial trees and plants
could be also be used.
Where does my dinosaur live?
• Children create models of a favourite dinosaur with modelling clay. Make palm tree forests using cardboard rolls, plants from
strips of card that have been painted green and lakes or rivers from pieces of blue or green cellophane. Children place their
dinosaur on the display in the correct habitat. The teacher or child can make a label of the dinosaur’s name to lay next to it.
Dinosaur teeth display
• Use playdough to make the teeth of different types of dinosaurs. Display them with labels of the name of each dinosaur. Drawn
or cut out pictures of the foods they ate could be placed next to each tooth.
• Make number charts with number name, numeral and dot number array using pictures of different dinosaurs; e.g. 1 – one
triceratops, 2 – two stegosaurus, 3 – three diplodocus. Number charts using an array of dinosaur footprints could also be used
instead of dinosaur pictures.
• Make colour charts by putting a circle of colour and the colour’s name in different dinosaurs.
• Children sponge print large outlines of dinosaur footprints. Cover with clear adhesive
plastic covering and cut out. Attach Velcro to the back or use double-sided tape. Lay
a path of dinosaur footprints along a carpeted or tiled area of the classroom. Children
follow the path to a learning centre etc.
Felt board story display
• Set up an area with a felt board for children to access. From coloured pieces of felt, cut out
dinosaur shapes, eggs, nests, trees, ferns, ponds and lakes etc. Children can make up felt
board stories of their own or act out learned fi ngerplays.
Dinosaur egg display
• Display the papier-mâché eggs made in Visual arts on page 87. Egg-laying sites made from twigs, fallen leaves, small rocks
etc. could be placed in two or three areas around the classroom or school library.
Dinosaur cave learning centre
• Place a brown sheet, quilt cover etc. over a table to make a dinosaur ‘cave’. Add dinosaur eggs and other items made in visual
arts. Children can complete activities in their cave.
98 Early years themes—Animals—Dinosaurs www.ricpublications.com.au – R.I.C. Publications ®
Literature resources – 1
• Big book of dinosaurs/Touch and feel: Dinosaur by DK Publishing
• Bumpus jumpus dinosaurumpus! by Tony Mitton and Guy Parker-Rees
• Tyrannosaurus Drip by Julie Donaldson
• The magic school bus in the time of the dinosaurs by Joanna Cole
• If the dinosaurs came back/How big were the dinosaurs? by Bernard Most
• Saturday night at the dinosaur stomp by Carol Diggory Shields
• Bones, bones, dinosaur bones by Byron Barton
• The dinosaur who lived in my backyard by BG Hennessey
• Dazzle the dinosaur by Marcus Pfi ster
• The last dinosaur egg by Andrew Hegeman
• Digging up dinosaurs by Aliki
• Ten terrible dinosaurs by Paul Stickland
• Series written by Jane Yolen: How do
dinosaurs ... Examples: How do dinosaurs
eat their food? How do dinosaurs clean
their rooms? How do dinosaurs count to
ten? (and several others)
• Dinosaur roar! by Paul and Henrietta Stickland
Songs, action rhymes, fingerplays and poems
Five little dinosaurs
Five little dinosaurs
playing near the swamp.
Along came tyrannosaurus.
Chomp! Chomp! Chomp!
Continue the chant but substitute ‘fi ve’ with ‘four’,
‘three’, ‘two’ and ‘one’. Children can hold up the
correct number of fi ngers for each verse.
(Sung to the tune of ‘London Bridge is falling down’.)
Dinosaurs lived long ago,
Long ago, long ago.
Dinosaurs lived long ago,
Triceratops had three sharp horns,
Three sharp horns, three sharp horns.
Triceratops had three sharp horns,
Tyrannosaurus was very fi erce …
Stegosaurus had bony plates …
Iguanodon had a spike on each thumb …
Diplodocus had a very long neck …
Ankylosaurus had heavy armour …
Allosaurus had sharp teeth and claws …
Velociraptor ran very fast …
(Sung to the tune of: ‘Teddy bear, teddy bear’.)
Dinosaur, dinosaur, stomped around,
Dinosaur, dinosaur, shook the ground,
Dinosaur, dinosaur, some gave fear,
Dinosaur, dinosaur, we wish you were here.
The dinosaur went over the mountain
(Sung to the tune of ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’.)
The dinosaur went over the mountain,
The dinosaur went over the mountain,
The dinosaur went over the mountain,
To see what it could see.
To see what it could see,
To see what it could see.
The other side of the mountain,
The other side of the mountain,
The other side of the mountain,
Was all that it could see!
Substitute dinosaur names in place of ‘dinosaur’;
e.g. tyrannosaurus, triceratops.
R.I.C. Publications ® – www.ricpublications.com.au Early years themes—Animals—Dinosaurs 99
Literature resources – 2
Songs, action rhymes, fingerplays and poems
(Sung to the tune of ‘The ants go marching’.)
The dinosaurs go marching one by one
The dinosaurs go marching one by one
The dinosaurs go marching one by one
The little one stopped to stand in the sun
And they all go marching up and down and round and round.
two by two/see the view
three by three/eat from a tree
four by four/give a roar
fi ve by fi ve/say, ‘I’m alive’
six by six/step on some sticks
seven by seven/count to eleven
eight by eight/because he was late
nine by nine/scratch his spine
ten by ten/to fi nd a den
The dinosaur song
(Sung to the tune of ‘The wheels of the bus’.)
Tyrannosaurus went, ‘Grr, Grr, Grr!’
‘Grr, Grr, Grr. Grr, Grr, Grr!’
Tyrannosaurus went, ‘Grr, Grr, Grr!’
All around the swamp.
Ankylosaurus’s armour went clunk, clunk, clunk …
Stegosaurus’s tail went spike, spike, spike …
Iguanadon went munch, munch, munch …
Triceratops’s horns went poke, poke, poke …
Velociraptor’s legs went run, run, run …
Diplodocus went plod, plod, plod …
Allosaurus went roar, roar, roar …
(Children do actions while singing.)
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