How to Teach About Dinosaurs to Preschoolers

Young preschool boy playing with dinosaur figurine
... Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

Dinosaurs are perhaps one of the most well-loved themes among preschool age children. Many preschoolers are fascinated with the creatures and become instantly engaged in a lesson about how the massive dinosaurs once roamed the earth. Use that curiosity to your advantage by introducing a variety of hands-on classroom activities that are both entertaining and educational.

1 Crack Open Some Books

Books are a valuable preschool classroom tool because they provide visual images, inspire imagination and lay the foundation for reading skills later in life. Show students how big dinosaurs were compared to humans with "National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs," by Catherine D. Hughes and Franco Tempesta. Teach preschoolers about bedtime, birthdays and friendship with the "How Do Dinosaurs?" series, by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. Use opposites to teach students interesting dinosaur facts with "Dinosaur Roar," by Paul and Henrietta Stickland.

2 Use Your Hands

Introduce basic archeology concepts by burying wooden dinosaur bones, available at many teacher supply, craft and hobby stores, in the sandbox. Provide archeology tools, such as plastic shovels and small paintbrushes and have the preschoolers dig for the bones. Fill your sensory table with sand and plastic dinosaur toys. Expand on the dinosaur sensory activity by encouraging the students to add plants, leaves and sticks -- items they think they might have seen when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Help preschoolers understand how large a T-rex mouth was by using masking tape to create a 10-foot circle on your classroom floor. Then hide several fake T-rex teeth around the room. Ask the preschoolers to hunt for the teeth and then work together to tape them to the circle.

3 Get Out the Art Supplies

Use art supplies to help nurture preschoolers' fascination with dinosaurs. Give each child a ball of clay and a plastic dinosaur. Have the students press their dinosaur into the clay, leaving a fossil image behind. Preschoolers might also be interested to learn that baby dinosaurs hatched from eggs. Provide each child with a plastic dinosaur and a hunk of modeling dough. Show them how to wrap the dough around the dinosaur. Let the "eggs" dry overnight. Take the preschoolers outside and let them throw the eggs on the sidewalk to get the dinosaurs out. Teach about dinosaur bones by letting preschoolers create their own dinosaur skeleton. Set out several shapes of dried pasta such as penne, farfalle and linguine. Students will create their skeleton by gluing the pasta pieces onto construction paper.

4 Do Some Math and Science

Provide preschoolers with plastic dinosaurs in several sizes, types and colors. Ask them to sort the dinosaurs according to these attributes. Counting the dinosaurs is another good math activity for preschoolers. Show preschoolers pictures of different sized dinosaurs and have them point out which are the largest and which are the smallest. Teach the students that dinosaurs were cold-blooded animals by filling one plastic bottle with cold water and another with warm water. Children can feel the bottles to get a better idea of the difference. Bring in pictures or plastic replicas of several different types of dinosaurs and let the children point out the characteristics of each, such as the plates on a stegosaurus or the horns on a triceratops. As you're showing the pictures, teach the children the names of each dinosaur.

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.