Online Science Class for Preschoolers: A Dinosaur Home

This is the last Dinosaur Lesson...Week 1 is over!  I'd love to hear if you tried any of the activities or experiments!  And if you have any pictures, I'd love to see them--feel free to email me!  Join us next week for Week 2: Light and Color!  I will post Monday's class on Sunday night.


Day 4: A Dinosaur Home

Overview:  Day 4 is all about where the dinosaurs lived!  There is a lot of room to expand the lesson for older children.  This lesson particularly appeals to the Verbal-Linguistic, Visual-Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Naturalistic intelligences.

  • Large cardboard (we used a piece about 1 ½ feet by 1 ½ feet)
  • Vase
  • Flour, salt, water, food coloring
  • Very large mixing bowl and six thick paper plates
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Paper towels
  • Toy dinosaurs
  • Optional accessories like plastic trees, little sticks or rocks, etc.

  • Gather supplies!

Science Time!
  • Today we are building a Dinosaur Land Diorama!  We will be building a dinosaur home on this piece of cardboard.  But first, we have to make the dough!
  • First we need 4 cups of salt.  Count it with me!  After the salt is in the bowl, let your child feel it and talk about the texture.  Next we need 10 cups of flour.  Count it with me!  Let your child mix the salt and flour together with her hands.  Lastly, we need 4 cups of water.  Count it with me!  You can let your child mix the dough a bit, but you will need to knead it together to form a soft ball.  (I know this sounds like a ton of dough but, honestly, if I were doing it again I’d make even more!)  Divide the dough into six equal piles and place one pile on each plate.  Add 10-12 drops of food coloring to each pile of dough.  Ask your child to predict what will happen when you mix red and blue or yellow and red.  Older children can help knead the colors in.  Younger children may get bored with this part and want to play with the toy dinosaurs.  Alternatively, you could make the dough in advance.   
  • Now we can build our Dinosaur Land Diorama!  I’m going to start with a volcano.  Build the dough around the vase to form a volcano.  Let your child build (younger children will need help and older children will enjoy your participation) the perfect Dinosaur Land.  While you build with her, talk about how the climate used to be warmer, how some dinosaurs made nests for their eggs and took care of the eggs, how they needed water, and what they might have eaten.  When Dinosaur Land is built, play with the toy dinosaurs in their new home.  Make footprints and pretend to travel.  Have fun!  The dough dries out eventually (after about a day or so), so you can save your diorama for a few days.  My kids were a bit attached to ours, so we kept it for about three days.
  • As the play is winding down, announce that it’s time for the volcano to erupt!  Surround your diorama with paper towels…or go outside!  Pour about ½ cup of vinegar into the vase and add 2-3 drops of both yellow and red food coloring.  Dump 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda quickly down the vase.  Take pictures of the “Ooohs!” and “Ahhhs!”  You will probably have to repeat this a few times!    Older children will enjoy a simplified explanation of the eruption (When baking soda and vinegar mix together, they react and make lots of gas/bubbles.  The only place the bubbles have to go is straight up the vase and out of the volcano!).
  • Re-visit the KWL chart (if you have one) and write down what you learned today. 
  • Let your child draw or write about what she did today in her Science Notebook.