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The Great Dinosaur Mystery
Teacher’s Guide

©2004 DinoRock Productions, Inc.

Activities for before and/or after the performance of the show

I. Warm Ups: A Prehistoric Walk To The Watering Hole

  1. Introduce the idea of using your imagination to become a plant eating dinosaur taking a walk down to the watering hole.

  2. In this sequential, movement activity the children stand in a circle and walk in place.

  3. Starting with the words “On my way to the watering hole I saw..” you, the teacher, begin by offering a suggestion for what you saw. ie, “I saw a pterodactyl.” Then, initiating a movement that depicts a pterodactyl, have the children move with you in place.

  4. Then add on with the question, “What did the pterodactyl see?” Children often volunteer, “the pterodactyl saw me!” In order to keep the sequence going, suggest that the dactyl saw something new. What might that be in a Jurassic rain forest?

  5. Take the children’s suggestions for movements that represent what they saw.

  6. Do a sequence of as many movements as you think the children can successfully remember.

  7. Stringing the movements together, you can create a prehistoric dance, which you and the children can do to different rhythms and pieces of music.

  8. Try doing the sequence without any words. You might be surprised at just how many of these images the children can remember. I’ve had success with as many as 8 to 10 motions.

Homer and Godzilla by Marc Spiegel © 1983 (Used by permission)

Homer was an apatosaurus, happy as can be.
Dancing gently through the forest, singing merrily.
He went, "Ladadada, deeda dada deeda dada dum."
When, suddenly, from behind a tree, the mean Godzilla jumped.

Homer was so friendly, saying, "Hi! How do you do?"
Homer said to himself, "Godzilla's got me in a pickle."
"There's only one way out of this, which is to charge and tickle!"

And so he ran up to Godzilla, and tickled underneath his chin...
Behind his ears ... and everywhere.
He was all over him.... tickle, tickle, tickle.
Godzilla snickered ...... hee, hee, hee.
Godzilla giggled ........ ho, ho, ho.

And then he lost control.
He laughed out loud...... ha, ha, ha.
It knocked him down ..... ho, ho, ho.
And on the ground he rolled.

Homer just went dancing off, without even looking back.
"Ladadada, deeda dada, deeda dada dum."
While Godzilla's laughing till today,
From the mighty tickle attack.
"Ho, ho, ho, ho .......
Ha, ha, ha, ha .......
Hee, hee, hee, hee ...."


  1. They all lived during the Mesozoic Era.
    Activity: Construct a time line using 3 different color ribbons.
    Each color will represent an historical era.

    If 1" = 1 million years then........

    1st color – Mesozoic Era = 13.3 feet
    2nd color - Age of Mammals = 5.25 feet
    3rd color – Humankind = 2.5 inches

    Note: You can use shelf paper. After you've marked off the lengths, the children can use crayons, magic markers, or whatever, to draw the various dinosaurs, mammals, and humans.

  2. They lived on the land: no paddles, no wings.

  3. They walked with their legs underneath their bodies. (see diagram, "Leg Positions," on page 12).

  4. They had special skeletal features – unique skull openings.

III. Dinosaur Detectives
1.Turn the children into dinosaur detectives by swearing them in as
“scientific questioners” who will ask questions, collect evidence
and draw some conclusions.

Sample approach: Background: What is a dinosaur detective?

1.) Scientists who study these fossils are called paleontologists, alias dinosaur detectives.
2.) Tools include: Tape measure, brushes, pick and shovel, notebook, magnifying lens, hat to shade your eyes in the field.

The Dinosaur Detective's Pledge:

To ask questions
To record all the information we find out about dinosaurs in a detective's notebook
To learn more about dinosaurs


:I'm a detective. I'm a detective, too.
But I solve mysteries. Well, what do you think I do?

My job is getting the answers I've got the same job as you.
By figuring out the clues. I'm a detective too.
A detective studies the scene of the crime. Like a dinosaur dig, Sherlock?

I get my impressions Well, I get my impressions from rocks. (Chorus)
from eyewitness accounts.

A detective follows footprints. I call 'em dinosaur tracks.
A detective relies on his hunches. Like a scientific theory.
What's that? It's a hunch.
"Oh." A hunch based on the facts. (Chorus)

A detective goes under cover. Well, I go underground.
Do you always find the answers?
No. Some remain unfound. I sure know that feeling.
You do? Yeah, it`s the worst.
Cause you wanna solve the mystery Yes, that's really true.

Say, you are a detective.
YES! You're a detective, too. (Chorus)

IV. Study The Clues - Fossils
Discuss fossils with the children: Fossils are dinosaur leftovers
Dinosaur fossils include: bones, teeth, eggs, skin, footprints, imprints of skeletons left in rocks, and dinosaur dung(coprilite).

Using modeling clay and plastic dinosaur models, make your own fossils by pressing the dinosaur models into the clay. The impression left in the clay is a reasonable facsimile of a fossil.

V. Investigate the Dinosaurs Through Song and Dramatic Play
- MAMA MAIASAURA (a kind of hadrosaur - “good mother lizard”)

Chorus: Oh, Mama Maiasaur, Mama Maiasaura (2x)
I'm a good mother,
Oh there is no other like Mama Maiasaura. (2x)

First I dig a hole. Make a nice a nest.
Then I lay the eggs. I take a little rest.
I make a thick blanket of branches and leaves
To keep those little eggs warm.
Mama and Papa they watch and they wait
And soon 20 new babies are born.
They all come out singing... (Chorus)

I think maybe I take a little nap.
"Oh no Mama you can't." Why not?
First they need some food.
Get some berries quick.
Sing to them at night.
Nurse them when they're sick.
Oh, beautiful babies, big eyes and sweet faces.
So much I love my bambino chorus.
Yes– you're a good mother,
Oh, there is no other like Mama Maiasaura

So, one day I'm down by the river. I 'ma chewin' on a mouth full of berries for my baby and I hear a funny noise comin' froma da nest. I turn around and what do you think I'ma see standin' right by da nest?
Atsa a right. An ugly little so–and–so. But the teeth on this guy, macaroni, sharp like a steak knife. OH, I KNOW, A TROODON.
Maybe so. I don't know. I didn't ask his name. All I know some people say my blood she's a cold. Some people say my blood she's a warm. That day, my blood... she boiled! I raced to my nest; I lift up my foot to step on the...how you say?
THE TROODON. Ah, Troodon, si;
and (STUMP) I squash him like a bug. Nobody messes with my babies!!!! (Chorus)

2.) To dramatize the story in the classroom you, the teacher, can take on the role of the Mama Maiasaura, using an apron and building up a nest with leaves and branches. The children can be the babies. The story can be done by the children while the song plays or by itself. The troodon should be another grownup or a puppet, not a child. The squashing of the troodon can be done in slow motion. Be sure to only stomp once. Once is enough to make the point that the mama is
ready to protect her babies.

- DOLLY DIMETRODON "alias" Two Measure Teeth "alias" Pelycosaur

Song: The Lizard In Me by Michele Valeri & Rob Bayne © 1991

Je m'apelle Dolly Dimetrodon.
I have something to say and then I'll be gone.

Chorus: Vous avez des yeux, mais vous ne pouvez voir.
Vous ne me changerez jamais, je suis un lezard. (What'd she say?)

She said: You've got eyes but you just can't see.
You will never change the lizard in me. (2x)

Listen hard and listen well.
Dolly was a lizard, "un lezard tres belle."
She always held her elbows high and wide,
While her tail sashayed from side to side. (Chorus)

Dolly moved about when the sun was out.
When the sun went down she I bet she'd sit and pout.
Her sail fin caught every delta eye.
She was a Permian queen, and Dolly wasn't shy.(Chorus)

Proud, prehistoric pelycosaur.
40 Million years before the dinosaur.
She slithered and she slunk like a lizard today.
Now you understand why Dolly would say..... (Chorus)

1.) Movement activity:
Hold your arms and elbows in the 'high and wide' position of a
pelycosaur. Referring to the diagram on page 12, show the children the difference between the dinosaur profile and the pelycosaur profile.

2.) While listening to Dolly's song, move around the room like dimetrodons.

Big Bad Baby Rex: Tyrannosaurus rex - Theropod(tyrant lizard king)

Song: Big Bad Baby rex by Michele Valeri & Joe Pipik © 1992

Who's that beast from salt lake city?
Big, Bad Baby Rex.
His mama thinks he's mighty pretty.
Big, Bad Baby Rex.
Two strong legs with three toed feet.
Even as a child he loved to eat.
His mama said - "bone appetite!"
"My favorite food is meat, meat, meat."

He's got no class, no etiquette.
Big, Bad Baby Rex.
"But what I want I always get."
Big, Bad Baby Rex.
He lived at home till he was three feet tall.
"I could catch bugs before I could crawl."
He never won an argument or family brawl.
"I was too small, that's all."

(I think we hurt his feelings. Maybe we should sing about when he grows up.)
When you grow up, you'll be king of the hill.
You'll just eat all day
And when you have your fill,
You'll lay down in a scaly heap,
And then you'll creep into a deep sleep.

So when it comes right down to the nitty gritty.
He's Big Bad Baby Rex.
He's that carnosaur from salt lake city.
Big Bad Baby Rex.
He's a big bad baby... Please pass the gravy,
Big Bad Baby Rex.
He's a big, bad baby... Don't mean maybe, Big Bad Baby Rex

Measuring size and shape:
1.) T.rex strides: Using masking tape, plant one foot of the T. rex down on the floor. Then count out 16 feet to another place in the room, where another foot print will go. Have the children count how many strides of theirs equals one stride of T. rex.

2.) Sooo Big!: Using your school building, mark off the length of a large sauropod in the hallway of the school. The diplodocus was 90 feet long.

Other comparisons: Triceratops - big as a dump truck.
Stegosaurus - big as a Volkswagen bug
T.rex - tall as a 2 story school building


V. The Greatest Dinosaur Mystery - How did dinosaurs become extinct?
A. There are lots of theories about how the dinosaurs became extinct. Children usually know at least some dinosaur extinction theories. Too much fun to pass up, here are some ideas:

by Michele Valeri, Joe Pipik, and Ingrid Crepeau © 1992

: Oh, it's a mystery; A great dinosaur mystery.
Why did they die? Where did they go?
Just what happened? I don't know.
Oh, it's a great, great, great, great, Great, great, great, great,

Maybe huge volcanoes everywhere Began to blow their tops.
Smoke and ash filled up the air. Rain fell in hot drops.
The plants died out. The food chain broke.
The dinosaurs were famished.
You've got to eat to live it's true. Some think that's why they vanished.

But, Why? Oh, Why? Why did they have to die? (Chorus)

From outer space a meteorite, A rock the size of Cleveland,
Crashed into earth like dynamite: That's what some believe in.
A fire started, Burned for years.
Smoke turned the day to night. Some clues show the final blow
Was a giant meteorite. (Chorus)

Might have been disease or allergies. They sneezed themselves to death.
Or less plants meant less oxygen. They just ran out of breath.
Or rat like mammals ate their eggs. I've heard that story told.
It got too hot. It got too cold.
The species just got too, too old. (Chorus)

1. VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS – probably many at one time. There is a way to demonstrate volcanoes erupting. You'll need a flat cookie sheet with 1" sides to catch the flow. And you'll need enough clay to construct a small volcano with a hole in the middle. Place a piece of wax paper inside the volcano. On the wax paper place a tablespoonful of baking soda, a teaspoonful of dry red food dye, or a few drops of liquid dye. Add a half cup of warm water and stir. Then add a tablespoonful of apple cider vinegar and stand back! The result should be an actual eruption with the red liquid (the lava) bubbling up and over the side of the clay volcano. The children can add the sound effects of a real explosion.

2. THE METEOR THEORY – Using a globe or other round orb (even a beach ball) to represent the earth, take a rock the size of a ping pong ball and show the path a meteor would take through space, finally hurtling toward earth. Again the children could be the sound effects. A handful of baby powder blown through a funnel attached to a plastic tube underneath the globe will create the dust that resembles the dust storm that blocked out the sunlight millions of years ago, causing the plants to die and then the dinosaurs to die from lack of oxygen and/or food.

3. MAMMALS EATING DINOSAUR EGGS – Although small rat like mammals probably ate dinosaur eggs for thousands of years, that alone did not kill off the dinosaurs. To demonstrate mammals eating dinosaur eggs, take a raw egg and poke a small hole into one end. Then poke a bigger hole into the other end. Blow the egg out of one end into a small bowl. The egg can be used for scrambled eggs or other cooking recipes. The shell needs to dry out for a few days. When you are sure it's dry,make a little nest for the egg. If you have a puppet that could resemble a rodent you can use that as the culprit. Otherwise a sock puppet with felt ears can be the mammal. Have the puppet gobble up the egg with an exaggerated, dramatic flair

Can you think of ways to dramatize some of the other theories?
4. Foreign disease or allergies to new flowering plants
5. The climate change(too hot or cold) -food loss from change
6. The dinosaurs simply came to the end of their evolutionary cycle.


Dinosaurs Forever! by Michele Valeri & Joe Pipik © 1993


I love the bones, the teeth, the tracks
I love to learn all those dinosaur facts.
We love dinosaurs right down to the ground.
We really love those dinosaur sounds! Chorus:

I think it’s funny when people say,
That dinosaurs have had their day.
I think dinosaur fever is still sweepin’ the nation.
They’re alive for us in our imagination. Chorus:


COUNT–A–SAURUS. Nancy Blumenthal. Four Winds Press. New York, 1989
A counting book based on dinosaurs. Not only a fun way to count for young children; put comes equipped with an "append–a–saurus" filled with information on the dinosaurs. Could easily be adapted as a song to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star".

MAIA: A DINOSAUR GROWS UP. John R. Horner and Doug Henderson. Running Press. Philadelphia, 1989.
A new edition of the wonderful story of Maia, a maiasaura,
which starts with her hatching out of the egg and follows her
till she becomes a mother. Wonderful illustrations. Read aloud. K–3. Phonetically spelled glossary included.
Pop Up Books
DINOSAUR BABIES. Ely Kish (Illustrator) A National Geographic Action Book published by The National Geographic Society, 1991.
Movable features of this beautifully rendered pop up book picture a variety of dinosaurs in different stages of development, from hatchlings to juveniles ready to migrate with the herd. The pop ups are exquisite. (K-2)

DINOSAURS: A POP UP BOOK. Dot and Sy Barlowe. Random House, 1977.
This book has a few paleontological mistakes. It’s dated, but for 3 year olds it’s still a terrific introduction to dinosaurs. It has simple illustrations that tell the most basic facts about dinosaurs. They were hatched from eggs. Some ate plants, while some ate meat. The mistakes: 1) It gives the impression that long necked dinosaurs spent most of their time in the water - simply not true. because all dinosaurs were land animals 2) Diplodocus is not the longest at 90 feet, the seismosaurus (a kind of diplodocid) is longer at 110 ft. 3)Dinosaurs were reptiles - debatable now that they have found evidence of dinosaurs with feathers. Just show the kids the illustrations and know that some of the text is faulty.

THE FLIGHT OF THE PTEROSAURS. Keith Moseley. Smithsonian Institution.
Los Angeles, 1986.
Mr. Moseley does it again, having pop ups that are not only
beautiful, but also illustrative of the science of pterosaurs.

PTEROSAURS: THE FLYING REPTILES. Paper Engineering by Keith Moseley and Richard Courtney. Grosset and Dunlap. New York, 1988.
A small(in size), short(in text), pop up book that has simpler sentences than THE FLIGHT OF THE PTEROSAUR.

POP-UP DINOSAURS. John Malam with illustrations by Andy Everitt-Stewart
and Dudley Moseley. Compass Productions, 1990.
Another great pop-up book for preschoolers, the text of this book compares dinosaurs to various animals and modern day things that children already know. For example, the pop-up stegosaurus appears with a mini van for size comparison, and T.rex is shown with a giraffe. The apatosaurus is lined up with
three buses parked end-to-end. It’s a wonderful introduction to dinosaur sizes.

Craft Books:

DINOSAUR CARTON CRAFT. Hideharu Naitoh. Seibundo Shinkosha
Publishing Co., 1992. ISBN #0-87040-911-5.
It says right on the cover, “Cut, assemble, glue actual-size drawings included: Ages 10 and up”. So this book may not be for you. But the patterns are fascinating. If you want to have a large, standing dinosaur as part of your room decorations you may want to attempt one of the models with your aide or some other unsuspecting adult.

WILD ABOUT DINOSAURS. Kathy Ross. Millbrook Press, 1997.
This is a great how-to book that shows how to make dinosaur window scenes and a parasaurolophus mask. Simple instructions for a pasta fossil plaque will produce a very real looking fossil find. The materials you need for each activity are usually materials already in most classrooms. Among my favorites were “designing dinosaur feet” and “hatching troodon puppet”. You’ll end up doing most of the work if your children are below the age of 5.

Dinosaurs On The Internet:

Due to the linking capabilities of most web sites I have chosen three well connected sites that appeal to children as well as adults, and are capable of leading dinosaur fans to all the best dino web pages.

http://www.dinodon.com - Dino Don is actually Don Lessem, founder of the Dinosaur Society, an organization for professional and amateur paleontologists. His web site is very "kid friendly" , containing a special page of Kid's Art and what he calls "Cool Stuff". Along with current news and a dino dictionary there is a links page with everything from the Maryland Science Center and the University of California Museum of Paleontology at Berkeley (an excellent site) to Dinosaur Cartoons and Beri's Dinosaur World Magazine. The page about scientists is particularly interesting because Dino Don knows all of them personally. He has been a science writer for about 20 years and written many books on dinosaurs.

http://www.dinosauria.com - For the hardcore dinosaur fanatics this web site is like a walk through paradise. They have a store page and a dispatch page with updates on new digs and revised conclusions from collecting new data. They have a huge "Hot Links" page that contains some very interesting references. My impression is that most of the articles and links belong to practicing paleontologists and so the newest of the new discoveries and a window into the debatable dinosaur mysteries that scientists are currently researching and thinking about are on this web site. It's not for small children per se, but fifth and sixth graders who really love science will find this site irresistible.

I found this site quite by accident while I was browsing one day on the web. There is a special page for dinosaur extremes with brightly colored icons of the individual record holders, and there are templates of individual dinosaurs that can be downloaded for "non-commercial educational uses only". This site was designed for children. The facts are up to date and updated regularly.

- Our web site is about our shows, our recordings and our puppet making. The children might enjoy looking at it after we’ve been at the school.