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Grades 3-5


In this lesson, students will join Ms. Frizzle's class and be transported back in time to the late Cretaceous period, sixty-seven million years ago. They will observe dinosaurs as they eat, hunt, interact with other dinosaurs, and even care for their young. By analyzing data collected during this lesson, students will draw the conclusion that most dinosaurs were herbivores rather than carnivores. Students will also understand that dinosaurs were not bloodthirsty monsters, but were merely following their instincts for survival. This lesson may be completed in one class period or may be extended to two or three periods.
ITV Series
The Magic School Bus #205: The Magic School Bus The Busasaurus

Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
1. compare and contrast shapes and sizes of various dinosaurs.
2. conclude that there were more plant eaters than meat eaters.
3. explain that meat eaters were hunters, searching for food.
4. make predictions based on observed behaviors.
5. collect data.
6. explain that the information we have regarding dinosaurs has been gathered from fossils.
7. construct a model of a fossil.

Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), Grade 4
Math Objectives:
#3: Demonstrate an understanding of geometric properties and relationships.
#4: Demonstrate an understanding of measurement concepts using metric and customary units.
Science Objectives:
#2: Sequence, order and/or classify scientific data and/or information.
#4: Interpret scientific data and/or information.
#5. Make inferences, form generalized statements, and/or make predictions using scientific data and/or information.

NCTM Standards for K-4
Standard 5: Estimation
Standard 13: Patterns and relationships
Per class:
Per group of 2-4 students:
Per student:
Pre-Viewing Activities
Give the students a piece of colored construction paper. Have them fold it in half. Have them write the following titles at the top of each page. On the front of the folded paper, have them write "Things I Know About Dinosaurs". On the inside left, have them write, "Things I Would Like to Know About Dinosaurs." On the inside right, have them write "Things I Learned About Dinosaurs." And on the back, have them write, "My Favorite Dinosaur." Ask the students to make a list of things they know and things they would like to learn about dinosaurs.
Focus Viewing
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing the video, say, "Students in Ms. Frizzle's class have been visiting a dig. They have been talking with Dr. Skeledon about how scientists find fossils of dinosaurs. In order to learn more about these marvelous creatures, Ms. Frizzle is preparing to take the class on a very different kind of field trip. We are going to join them. You wrote 'Things I Know About Dinosaurs' on your paper. As we watch the video, if you find that you made a statement that is correct, put a check by it. If you find that your information was incorrect, draw a line through it. You also wrote 'Things I would Like to Know About Dinosaurs.' If you find the answer to your questions, make a quick note and we'll talk about it later. You will see Liz, Ms. Frizzle's lizard, collecting data about the dinosaurs they see. You will be using a chart like Liz's to help you decide if most dinosaurs were meat eaters or plant eaters. You will need to watch closely to find out what these prehistoric animals preferred for lunch. Watch as the class begins its field trip. Find out where they are going and how long it will take to get there. Also watch for any changes you see taking place in the scenery as they travel."

Viewing Activities
BEGIN the video after people are seen walking backward, climbing into the jeep, and the jeep moving in reverse. The first frame students will see should be birds flying through the air and the bus appearing as a lighted spiral. The first voice students hear should say, "We're going back in time. We've never done this before."
PAUSE when you see the bus covered with ice and snow and you hear Phoebe say, "Why is it so cold? Ask, "Where have the students gone? (back in time) What changes did you see happening in the landscape as they traveled through time? (changes in the trees, water, weather, ice and snow) Why do you think it has become so cold? (accept all reasonable answers) How far back in time do you think the bus will carry the students? (accept all reasonable answers) Let's watch to find out why it has gotten so cold, and how far back in time the students are going to travel. Also see if you notice any other changes in the scenery." RESUME video.
PAUSE when you hear the students say, "Sixty-seven million years!! That means we'll probably see... .!" and you see a the head of an Alamasaurus coming toward the children. Ask, "If you were one of the students standing there, how would you feel? When was the first ice age? (1 million years ago) How far back in time have the students traveled? (67 million years) This time period has a specific name. Do you remember what Ms. Frizzle called it? (the late Cretaceous)" [Note: You may wish to rewind the video if students don't remember.] How do you think that word is spelled? (have students sound out the word or look it up in dictionary) What other changes did you see in the environment? (ice thawing, volcano receding) What do you predict the dinosaur will do? Watch to see how this dinosaur reacts to the students. Also listen to learn it's name. RESUME video.
PAUSE when you hear Ms. Frizzle say, "Now don't play with your food, little Alamasaurus. Ask, "What is the name of this dinosaur? (Alamasaurus) How did it react to the students? (passed them by, ate the leaves of the bush) Do you think it is a meat eater or a plant eater? Let's watch its behavior and you try to decide." RESUME video.
PAUSE when you see Ralphie look into the camera, put his hands to the sides of his head and say, "See, I knew this would happen. The dinos did them in." Ask, "What do you think? Was the Alamasaurus a plant eater or a meat eater? Ms. Frizzle presented a perplexing proposition. Were dinosaurs ferocious or friendly, sweet or savage, murderous or... As we watch the rest of the video, Liz will keep a chart on which to record data about the dinosaurs the students will encounter. In order to help us answer Ms. Frizzle's perplexing question, we will also keep records."
Hand out Worksheet #1 and allow time for students to cut out the symbols for plants and meat. Explain the procedure to the students. Say, "As we meet each dinosaur, you should watch its behavior and decide whether it is a meat eater or plant eater. Then, using your chart, place either the symbol for plant or the symbol for meat next to that dinosaur. We will check your predictions with Liz's chart, and when we are sure we know the answer, you can glue your symbol to your chart. Now let's continue our trip and see which dinosaurs the students encounter next." RESUME.
PAUSE when you hear Carlos say, "Yeah. Bloodthirsty for Arnold." Ask, "What did you see the Parasaurolophus doing? (eating plants, drinking water) Predict whether these dinosaurs are plant eaters or meat eaters. Put the symbol for your choice on the chart. Let's watch and see if your prediction was correct. Also, see if you can find out what the structures on the Parasaurolophus' heads are for." RESUME.
PAUSE when you see Liz put a plant symbol on the chart and your hear, "Chalk up another vegetarian, Liz." Ask, "Were you correct? Glue the symbol for the plant next to the Parasaurolophus. What is the structure on their heads? (it helps them produce noises) As the class tries to reach Arnold and Phoebe, they meet another dinosaur. Watch carefully and see what you can find out about this creature." RESUME video.
PAUSE when you see the mother dinosaur pull berries from the tree, and you hear Keesha say, "She doesn't look to me like she wants to fight." Ask, "Where did the students land after the bus flipped through the air? (in a nest) Do you think this dinosaur is a meat eater or a plant eater? Put the symbol for your choice next to the picture of this dinosaur. Let's see if you are correct. Also watch to find out how this mother dinosaur feeds her young." RESUME.
PAUSE when you hear Tim say, "Carlos, wait. They're not meat eaters. They're even good mothers." Ask, "Did you predict that this dinosaur would be a plant eater? Glue your symbol to the chart. How did the mother feed her young? (She regurgitated the berries she had eaten.) Many scientists once believed that dinosaurs laid their eggs and left them to hatch. Then the young had to take care of themselves. Is that what the class has found to be true of this dinosaur? (No, they were good mothers.) Watch the next part of this story and see what the class learns about the next dinosaur they meet. Arnold and Phoebe have been chasing the Ornithomimus that stole Arnold's egg. Watch and see what happens to the egg, the Ornithomimus, and Phoebe and Arnold." RESUME.
PAUSE when you see the class standing on a hill overlooking a valley where dinosaurs are feeding, and you hear Ms. Frizzle say, "I knew the bus would be around here somewhere." Ask, "Look at the dinosaurs in the valley. What are they doing? (eating) Do you think they will be meat eaters or plant eaters? Put your symbol on the chart. Watch to see if you are correct." RESUME video.
PAUSE when you hear Dorothy Ann say, "The Triceratops won't hurt us. They're plant eaters, just like the others," and you see Liz add a plant symbol to the chart. Ask, "Were you correct? Glue your symbol to the chart. All of the dinosaurs we have met so far are plant eaters. Does this mean that all dinosaurs were plant eaters? (no) And all the plant eaters seem to be gentle, even if they are extremely large. Does that mean that all dinosaurs were gentle? (no) As you watch the next part of this video, see if you can draw conclusions about the meat eating dinosaurs the class encounters." RESUME video.
PAUSE when you hear, "It's a pack of Trilodons -- and they do eat meat." Ask, "Were the Triceratops plant eaters? Did you make the right prediction? Glue the symbol for plants on your chart. We suspected that the class would run into meat eating dinosaurs. Glue a symbol for "meat" on your chart. The Trilodons are trying to find lunch. Watch to see how the adult Triceratops protect their young." RESUME.
PAUSE when you hear, "Looks to me like they want an easy lunch without a fight." Ask, "How did the adult Triceratops protect their young? (They formed a circle using their heads and horns as a shield.) Why didn't the Trilodons attack the Triceratops? (They just wanted an easy meal without any trouble. The horns scared them off.) All throughout this trip, Phoebe and Arnold have been chasing an Ornithomimus who stole Arnold's egg. Watch to see if or how they get it back." RESUME video.
PAUSE when you hear Ralphie say, "Is it just me, or is that a real, live, Tyrannosaurus Rex behind them." Say, "Decide if you think the Tyrannosaurus Rex is a meat eater or plant eater. Look at his teeth. That should give you a clue. Watch to see if Phoebe and Arnold escape without becoming lunch." RESUME video.
PAUSE when you see the Tyrannosaurus Rex run away, and you hear the students cheer, "Yeah! Way to go, Arnold. You did it!" Say, "Arnold and Phoebe are safe. What did you find out about the Tyrannosaurus Rex? (meat eater, didn't want to fight someone his own size, didn't want to get hurt) As we finish the next part of this video, you should listen to find out what the class has learned about dinosaurs. " RESUME video.
Stop the video when you see Arnold shrink, and you hear Phoebe say, "It's a good thing you didn't stay home today, Arnold." Ask, "What did the students learn about dinosaurs?" (There are more plant eaters than meat eaters. The meat eaters wanted a quick meal without getting hurt. They were not blood thirsty monsters.)
Post-Viewing Activities
Say, "At the beginning of this lesson, I asked you to make a list of things you knew about dinosaurs. Look back at that list. As we viewed the video, you put a check by anything that you found to be true, and you put a line through anything that you thought was true but you learned to be untrue. Did you get new information? Did you have any of your questions answered? (Allow time for students to discuss any questions they answered or any they still have.) On your folder, turn to the page titled 'Things I Learned About Dinosaurs' and write at least three things you learned from watching this video. Later you will draw a picture of your favorite dinosaur on the back of your folder."
"Remember that Ms. Frizzle's class has learned that all the information we have about dinosaurs has been gathered from finding fossils. Remember that a fossil is the remains of an organism that has been preserved in stone or some other material that does not allow decomposition. Before a fossil could form, what had to happen to the animal? (it had to die, it had to be covered up) We are going to look at one way that fossils form. Each group needs a clear cup. Fill the cup about 1/4 full of sand. The sponge on your table is shaped like a bone. That's because in this demonstration, it will act like a dinosaur's bone. Put the bone in the cup and cover it up with sand. Now we will take the liquid and pour it into the cup until the sand is thoroughly wet. The minerals in the water will soak into the sponge like the rain carries minerals in the soil into the bones. We will put the cups in a safe place and look at them again in a couple of days. What do you think will happen to the sponge?" (Allow students to make predictions and record them on a chart tablet or a piece of butcher paper to be hung in the room.)
Say, "You heard Ms. Frizzle say that dinosaurs came in all shapes and sizes. We often think of dinosaurs as being giants, and many were. However, there were small dinosaurs, also. I'm going to give you some sizes of dinosaurs. I have given each group a roll of adding machine tape. We are going to use that tape to make a comparison of the sizes of dinosaurs. You will need to use your ruler to measure a length of tape that matches the length of the dinosaur. After you have cut the tape, write the name of the dinosaur in large letters across it." [Show Overhead Transparency #1]
Allow students time to measure, cut and label the adding machine tape. Display it in the room or in the hallway.

Action Plan
Have students write to the following requesting information on their dinosaur exhibits:
Dinosaur Valley State Park
P. O. Box 396
Glen Rose, Texas 76043

Dinosaur National Monument
P. O. Box 128
Jensen, UT 84035

Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology
P. O. Box 7500
Drumheller, Alberta Canada T0J 0Y0

Field Museum of Natural History
Roosevelt Road at Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605

Have each student do research in the library on at least ten other dinosaurs to find out whether they are meat eaters or plant eaters. Use the information gathered by the class to create a Venn diagram showing the relationship between the number of plant eaters and the number of meat eaters. Have each student research at least ten modern day animals and determine whether they are meat eaters or plant eaters. Create a class Venn diagram. Do the charts show similar information?

Art: Create Dino-notes. Cut 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper into fourths to make note sheets. Cut a potato in half. Sketch a dinosaur shape on the surface of the potato. Use a plastic knife to carefully cut around your shape and cut away the excess potato. The dinosaur shape should be slightly raised. Coat the dinosaur with paint and print dinosaurs at the top of the note sheets.
Art: Create a class mural showing a scene from the late Cretaceous period. Be sure that the dinosaurs depicted in the mural are portrayed as accurately as possible. You may wish to introduce scale and have students calculate the size of the dinosaurs they will draw.
Science: Investigate information that can be collected from studying footprints. Cover a large area of the floor or a sidewalk with newspaper. Place a 4-5 foot strip of butcher paper on the newspaper. Have a tub of water at one end for washing after the activity. At the other end, have aluminum pie tins in which you have placed tempra paint. Have students take off their shoes and step into the paint. Then have them travel along the butcher paper. They can walk, hop, skip, or run. They can even put their hands and feet in the paint and walk across the butcher paper. You may want to use a different sheet of butcher paper for each action. Have students look at each pattern of prints that are left to understand how paleontologists can gather information from footprints. [Note: If you would rather not use paint, you can use black butcher paper and have students merely wet their feet and walk across the paper. The prints disappear when they dry, but you get the same effect if you study them before they dry.]
Language Arts: Ask students to pretend that they were transported back in time like Ms. Frizzle's class. Have them first draw a picture of their favorite dinosaur on the back of their folder. Then have them write a story about their encounter with that dinosaur.
Using the picture of their favorite dinosaur, have the students write a story from the perspective of that dinosaur. What would life be like? What must the dinosaur do to survive? Is it the hunter or the hunted? What other animals would it encounter during the course of a day?
Math: Have students write the alphabet and assign each letter a number. [For example, A = 1; B = 2; C = 3, Z = 26] Challenge students to find the dinosaur whose name has the greatest value when all the letters are added together.
d i n o s a u r 4 + 9 + 14 + 15 + 19 + 1 + 22 + 18 = 102
Give students the length of dinosaurs in feet. Have them convert this measurement to inches.

Internet resources
The Internet is a dynamic resource with addresses and sites that are constantly changing. Teachers should always check these internet sites themselves before sending students surfing on their own.
I. World Wide Web sites for student exploration
A. Honolulu Community College Dinosaur Exhibit http://www.hcc.hawaii.edu/dinos/dinos.1.html
This site has a very informative audio and video tour of the museum which answers questions such as: How can you tell Triceratops was an herbivore or T-rex a carnivore? What traits made T-rex a good hunter?
B. Dinosaur Hall http://ucmp1.berkeley.edu/diapsids/dinosaur.html
This site has a searchable database which students can use to research the most current information on any aspect of dinosaurs. Topics specifically related to this unit might include: carnivore, herbivore, Cretaceous, Triceratops, or Tyrannosaurus Rex. It also has several links to other dinosaur related sites.
C. Dinobuzz http://ucmp1.berkeley.edu/diapsids/dinobuzz.html
This web site provides a wealth of information on dinosaurs for both teachers and students in upper elementary grades to high school. It can be reached through Dinosaur Hall or on its own at this address. Several articles discuss the difference between science and non-science as related to dinosaur research and theory. One article dissects movies like Jurassic Park to separate the scientific fact from the fiction. After reading this article, students could make a chart comparing the aspects of the movie that are based on science fact (i.e. physical features of dinosaurs) with those that are primarily science fiction (i.e. cloning dinosaurs from fossilized blood samples).
D. Chicago Field Museum of Natural History Life Over Time Exhibit
The site has an interactive tour of the museum with a teacher's guide of activities that can be used in conjunction with the on-line tour. Students can also download an audio clip of a weather forecast for the Triassic period and take an on-line dino trivia quiz.
II. E-Mail resources
A. Ask-a-Curator vertzoo@sbmnh.rain.org
This service is provided by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Students or teachers may send questions in concerning dinosaurs to the resident experts in vertebrate zoology.
B. Dinosaur listserv
This listserv has regular postings, often of a technical nature, concerning current aspects of dinosaur research. It is probably most appropriate for teachers to use as a current resource rather than students. To subscribe, send a message to the following address, listproc@lepomis.psych.upenn.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body type subscribe dinosaur your name.
Dixon, Dougal, Questions and Answers About Dinosaurs, Kingfisher, New York, New York, l993
Dixon, Dougal, Be a Dinosaur Detective, Lerner Publications, Mineapolis, MN, 1988
Fuller, Mel, Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life; Whole Language Theme Unit, Instructional Fair, Inc., Grand Rapids, MI, 1991
Pearce, Q. L., All About Dinosaurs, Little Simon, Published by Simon and Schuster Inc., New York, 1989
"Windows on Science", Optical Data, Warren, NJ, 1990
Side 6 - From Fossils, Dinosaurs and Geologic Time Travel
Chapter 6 - Life and Times of Hadrosaurs
Chapter 7 - Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Chapter 10 - Carnivorous Dinosaurs

1995-1996 National Teacher Training Institute / Austin

Master Teacher: Gayle Evertson

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